Last night I attended the City Council Meeting, well…some of it. I sat in the hall most of the night as there was three other P&Z Members at the meeting watching the KISD Bus Barn presentation. As I was the one that got the evil eye from the City Attorney, I waited patiently outside so I could give my presentation on the TIF. I knew it was a very uphill battle to convince the Council to see things my way as they had their minds made up. Councilman Holmes did invite me up afterwards to clarify a few things and it turned into a mini debate and I think I handled it well. The Council did end up voting to refinance the bonds and, in my opinion throw $2.7 million down the crapper.
Councilman Thompson took issue with my use of the word immoral on a reply here on the blog to Randy Leake. If you didn’t follow the blog, you wouldn’t know who he was directing it at, but it was pretty evident to me.
im·moral (i môr′əl)
- not in conformity with accepted principles of right and wrong behavior
I disagree with Councilman Thompson. I do and will continue to have an opinion that throwing $2.7 million of taxpayer money down the toilet so you don’t have to make serious cuts to a governmental budget is immoral. Councilman Cawthra also lectured the citizens on how it was OK to refinance your house to pay for such things as your car payment or other bill as an analogy to justify his vote in favor of the refinance. Doesn’t he read the paper or watch the news? This is the same behavior that put our country in the financial situation we are in and I thought he was in finance. Councilmen Brown and Baker I believe have a firm grasp that hard decisions on staffing levels will need to be addressed going forward. I don’t know how much support they will gain from the other council members when it comes to layoffs, but I think they went a long way towards convincing Councilman Holmes. I think Thompson will never agree to it, as he made a statement that layoffs equal service reduction.
The City Manager made a statement that was a little over the top. He stated that this council in the last two years has held the line on spending by passing budgets that had the smallest increase in spending in the history of Keller. I just so happened to be sitting next to a former City Councilman from the early 90’s that informed me that there was a two year period in Keller during the time he served that they actually cut spending. Compare that to an increase of 3.6% in 2008-09 and a 0% increase in 2009-10. That’s why it is dangerous to use such phrases as “in the history.” I realize that the City Manager was trying to deflect some of my remarks about the out of control spending in Keller over the last decade and a half, but I know I could easily pull budgets from previous recessions in Keller and show multiple years of budget cuts. The late eighties in Texas massacred City Budgets, large and small. What is happening today in California and Florida are the same things that happened in Texas during that time period. We saw actual large drops in residential and commercial real estate values and it killed city budgets.
It became very apparent to me and anybody that watched the meeting of the fact that the Council put the cart before the horse by approving this refinance before they even started to work on this year’s budget.
On another note, the citizens from the neighborhoods affected by the gentleman that cut the top off his hill to build a playground showed up during persons to be heard. Let me tell you, they were heard loud and clear. They called the City Council out for not responding to multiple emails to them and to the nearly packed house you could sense the discomfort of our elected leaders. I think in the future that they will not be ignored as they have been the last four months. If they are, I was told by one resident that they would continue to come back and address the issues in public for all to see. Good for them.
When it comes to Baseball, I got word from Terry Barker through a text message that the Indians got whipped last night by Grapevine. Seems they allowed 8 runs in the first inning and fought from behind all night ending up losing 11-8. I was hoping that the meeting would be short enough to catch the end of the game, but it was midnight when I finally left for home last night.
On a positive note, I did get to meet the new reporter for the Keller Citizen. She informed me that they are still reading the blog over there and using the site for story ideas and to feel the pulse of the City.
I’m operating on about 2 ½ hours sleep this morning, so if this is rambling, I apologize. My second cup of coffee hasn’t kicked in yet.