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I’ve owned the domain name for a while now, but was pretty happy with the free hosting on WordPress and never bothered setting up the blog at www.beyondrightfield.com .
Having the blog on my own domain allows me to do a lot more with it, like advertising. Yes, I have been asked a couple of times this year about putting up an ad or two on the site and one day may actually do that, especially with the school board and fall elections coming up.
It also allows me to customize the site easier, although I’m not sure how much more of that I will do.
Last month, sales tax revenue appeared to bottom out, but the losing trend continues with a loss of 1.1% drop year over year for March. Year to date, the numbers are looking better at 3.29%, but it will be hard to come back from the way the collections cratered over Christmas.
I went to the Indians/Fossil Ridge game last night and stayed the first 5 innings. I think the team lost the game before they even walked on the field. In all my years watching Indian Baseball, I don’t know if I have ever seen a more lackadaisical performance from the team in a district matchup. They just didn’t look like they were into playing last night. Some of the talk was that maybe it was because of the drumming the Indians took at the hands of Colleyville Friday, if that is so, I blame the effort on the coaching staff.
If there is one thing that is necessary in baseball, it is a short memory. You can’t worry about your last at bat let alone your last game. Colleyville Heritage is not only the number 1 ranked team in the area, they are ranked in the top 50 nationally, but losing to a Ridge team that was 2-4 in District Play is not a good sign going forward. Hopefully Coach Stramp can make some adjustments moving forward, otherwise his playoff appearance streak will come to an end this year.
On another note, I remember the days when the High School Football Coaches from both schools would have to attend the Fossil/Keller matchups to keep the students in line. While there was a large contingent of Ridge students at the game, there were only a handful of Keller High students there watching. Most of them appeared to be girlfriends of the players. Maybe they were all at the Keller Softball game or Ridge isn’t considered a rival anymore like it once was.
I was quoted in the FWST this weekend and didn’t realize it until today. I’m still trying to catch up both at home and work from my weeks absense.
The Keller City Council will vote Tuesday on whether to stem the bleeding on its tax district by refinancing.
It’s a situation that city leaders didn’t see coming in 1998 when they approved the district amid Keller’s development boom. The City Council assumed that the future tax revenue from their planned Keller Town Center development would cover the payments on 20-year bonds worth $33 million.
“At the time, I could see why they would think their observations seemed reasonable,” O’Leary said.
In 2001, the tax district was $10,000 shy of its revenue goal of $422,209. In retrospect, that was a good year.
Keller’s tax district has been $12.4 million short of its revenue projections over the last decade. The city has had to dip into its general fund several times to help cover the debt.
Town Center now sports a City Hall, natatorium and other amenities, but private development has been limited. The refinancing plan would kick the bond payments 10 years down the road but could cost the city an extra $2.8 million if the commercial interest never materializes.
Doug Miller of Keller, a longtime TIF critic, urged council members at a recent meeting to avoid refinancing and “take the pain now” by slashing spending.
O’Leary said refinancing will let the city cover its tax district payments regardless of whether Town Center gets the extra development that many assumed was inevitable.
“We’re hoping it will develop as originally planned,” O’Leary said. “If it doesn’t, then we’re still going to be OK.”
I put a question mark because last year at this time they were talking about cutting pay, and that didn’t happen either. Only time will tell.
Without downsizing the city’s workforce, balancing the budget for next year would be nearly impossible, city officials said last week.
It is too soon to tell how many city employees will be affected, City Manager Dan O’Leary said during the first budget meeting of the year.
“Citywide I don’t know how many positions we are talking about,” he said. “We are going to go out through the whole organization and look at every position and see if there are things we can combine or see if there are things we can move around and see where it is we can reduce.”
The city is facing a projected $1.3 million deficit for 2010-11 and about $586,000 of the general fund is made up of personnel cost, O’Leary said.
“We’ve pretty much languished here for a couple of years with a pretty flat budget,” O’Leary said. “There is this feeling out there that we can’t continue to just languish like this for a number of years because it is like bleeding to death — it is not a fast and quick death, but a slow death.”
The 2010-11 budget goals presented by O’Leary last week included reducing the general fund expenditures below the previous year’s levels, downsizing the organization with minimal service level reduction, no tax rate increases and investing in increased compensation for remaining employees.
When I was young, my dad worked three, sometimes four jobs so he could feed his wife and 5 kids. We didn’t know we were poor until years later. My mom to this day can pinch two nickels together and come up with a quarter, a feat that still impresses me. While my mom and dad aren’t rich by any means, they are very comfortable in their retirement. When it comes to her kids or grandkids, my mom will splurge and not care of the costs, but if she is buying something for herself…watch out, she’ll dicker with the salesman at Walmart if you give her the chance.
The City of Keller has almost $9,000,000 in the bank, but yet they refuse to use some of that money to offset the TIF. They have departments that could be cut and not cause service reductions, but they choose not to do it. Instead, they insist on refinancing some of the bonds on the TIF at a overall cost of nearly $3,000,000. They need to take a lesson from my mother. Just because they have the option, doesn’t mean they need to continue with this plan.
Jim Carson and I considered putting forth a petition effort, to let the citizens of Keller have a voice on this issue. The City Attorney rendered a decision that Keller didn’t have to consider a petition effort in this case, and a long conversation with the AG’s office led us down a similar path. While other lawyers have told us they believe both the City Attorney and the AG’s office are wrong, it would cost us at least $15,000 to take the City to court to enforce the petition. A sum that neither of are willing to spend.
In the end, it is another example of what my mother calls the Cool Hand Luke Syndrome. I fight against the powers that be, because they are the power, only to lose in the end. Randy Leake, a commenter on this blog and a friend believes that our effort has helped to open the eyes of some Council members to the fact that serious cuts to the budget need to happen. A victory of sorts, but still a losing battle.
I guess I will never give up the fight, never be able to just live my life with the apathy that is so much a part of our society. Some days I wish I didn’t feel the need to read the paper or the blogs, that I would be such a happier person if I was oblivious to what goes on around me. Maybe one day when I retire to an island in the South Pacific, but not anytime soon.
And for those of you who have asked, my dad’s health continues to improve. He has a release date of April 29th from the Hospital. They are working him hard in rehab every day and he is regaining his strength in his left side. He continues to be in great spirits and has started a complete reorganization of the Rehab Unit….well, he’s at least trying.