Kevin R. McCarthy for Jefferson County Commissioner

This Years Property Valuations and Taxes

Seems a lot of people are ‘concerned’ about their property valuations this year. I know I am. I’ve basically done nothing to my property (OK, I finally replaced my deck and a wooden fence from Rita damage), but still.

According to the County Assessor, the property valuations are based on the local market. Someone explain to me why, if our property is worth more because of the market, then how come I can see two ‘for sale’ signs out my front window? They’ve been up for weeks. A brief drive around the neighborhood shows me several for sale signs that have been up for months.

So here are some really basic figures that I’ve done. Please keep in mind that these are estimates.

2007 County Budget: $135,000,000 (135 million dollars)

Tax Rate (per $100): $0.39

Approximate Total Property Valuation for Jefferson County: $34,000,000,000 (34 billion)

2008

Approximate Total Property Valuation for Jefferson County (average increase about 15%): $40,000,000,000 (40 billion) NOTE: per KFDM story

2008 County Budget (same as last year): $135,000,000

Tax Rate needed to achieve budget goal: $0.33 (per $100)

Alternative County Budget (my preferred estimate): $110,000,000

Tax Rate needed to achieve budget goal: $0.27 (per $100)

These are rough rounded figures.

Tax Discussion

First, How much do you want to bet that they will lower the tax rate to 37 cents per $100 and tell everyone how they are lowering taxes?  Yet the actual paid taxes increased for everyone and it netted the county the most income ever.  I explained the issue in a fairly long e-mail that I sent to all the media.  Only Tom Wright of KFDM even replied to me and it took some time before he believed me.

I’m not on the commissioners court yet, so I’m not privy to the detail budget and accounting figures.  I really want to know how much of that $25,000,000 ‘Emergency Fund’ is left.  There have been no events that, in my mind, would qualify for using the fund, so there had better be twenty five million left in it.  I’m concerned that the current court is using the fund for things that are not really emergencies (like Ford Park).

So assuming that the slush fund is intact, then that money can be removed from the budget; dropping it from $135,000,000 to $110,000,000.

That’s assuming that no county departments get a budget cut or increase.  I don’t really see the need for an increase.  Every business in the world is tightening their belts and doing more with less.  Only the government is steadily increasing their budgets.  The very least that they could do is maintain the current budget level.  I really suspect that some departments could survive with small cuts.

That would be my proposal.  A Jefferson County budget of $110 million dollars (or slightly less) and a tax rate of 27 cents per $100.  That would actually be a tax cut for citizens of Jefferson County, not a fake cut where you still end up paying more.

Information Sources

KFDM News Report

Jefferson County Appraisal District Website

Jefferson County Taxing Entities and Rates

April 23, 2008 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Politics, Port Arthur, Texas | | Leave a comment

Rebuilding Highway 87… revisited

Don’t let it be said that I don’t listen.  I’ve said several times that I disagree with rebuilding Highway 87… but the people of South Jefferson County want hwy87 between Sabine Pass and the Bolivar Peninsula rebuilt, so if I’m elected, then I will get the thing built for you.

After doing some research, if I’m elected then I will propose a few things that would make the highway more palatable for the environmental groups and improve the highway lifespan from 30 years to at least 60 or more years.

My plan would be to build it as a bridge… think about the Atchafalaya Swamp Freeway.  It’s 18.2 miles, slightly more than the part of hwy 87 that needs to be rebuilt.  It’s built entirely on piers for that entire distance and has withstood floods and hurricanes.

The advantages:

  • Less environmental impact.  Water and creatures can travel freely underneath the highway, leaving the wetlands pretty much as is, plus no alligators to hit while driving at night (a friend of mine hit an alligator just outside of Sabine Pass one night).
  • The highway will be more tolerant of storms and storm surge.  Say the highway is built 6-8 feet above sea level, there would have to be quite a storm to flood the highway and it would avoid damage from the constant pounding and shifting from weather
  • It could probably be built faster than if we had to stabilize every inch of roadbed.  Modern technology allows the prebuilding of lengths of road that are then moved out over the piers and placed into position.  Steel connections between sections would allow for shifting from weather, settling, and differential heating.

Disadvatages

  • It would probably be slightly more expensive, but this would have to be looked at.  I find it difficult to believe that building a bridge would cost more than having to stabilize some 93,000 feet of swamp.
  • Traffic issues: broken down cars, beach access, bird watching, emergency access, etc (more below)

For those traffic issues, I would propose two things to help out.  The first would be a great boon for Sabine Pass and High Island.  That is convince the cell phone companies to put towers in Sabine and High Island.  As far as I can tell there is only one company with excellent connections in Sabine.  The others are spotty to non-existent.  If I get stranded, I may not be able to get a call out depending on where I am.

The second affects the road/bridge itself.  I would propose to add four or five ‘wide points’ where the road extends to 4 lanes and there are under bridge turnarounds.  I would place beach access off of these points as well as making provisions for bird watchers and some additional access to the wetlands (boat ramps may not be out of the question).

This would add to the cost of the project, but hopefully turn it from just 17.5 miles of road to something that actually enhances Southeast Texas.

Comments from Civil Engineers and citizens of SE Texas welcome.

April 20, 2008 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Politics, Port Arthur, Texas | Leave a comment

Meeting

Additional details as events warrant. Don’t forget the Libertarian meeting Wednesday at Serintos in Beaumont.

April 15, 2008 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Politics, Port Arthur | Leave a comment

Campaigning

Sorry, I haven’t been posting in a while.  I’ve been putting up a wood fence and doing yardwork.

It’s pretty neat to watch what’s going on in the Democrat runoff.  I’m looking forward to the main event.

For those that are interested I have a few ideas to spread the word about my campaign.

First, I plan on being at the monthly meeting for Jefferson County Libertarians each month.  We meet on the second Tuesday at Sertinos Cafe in the Best Buy shopping center in Beaumont. They have some pretty good food and an ice cream bar, which I have been strenuously avoiding.  If you have some time and questions about me and/or the Libertarian Party, then come out and say hi.

Second, starting when I get the fence and yardwork finished (say in May), I plan on spending Saturday Lunches at a variety of places around town.  I’ll post where I plan on being a week or two in advance and try to get it in the newspapers and various community calendars.  I’ll eat and hang out for a few hours.  If the location allows it, I’ll have some Libertarian materials and such.  I hope that some of my many reader come introduce themselves (even if you aren’t in Precinct 3).

Third, if anyone would be interested in hosting a coffee or something, then let me know.  I can bring some homemade goodies and be willing to discuss anything you like in a small (or large) group.

Finally, I’m hoping that the PA News will host a debate between myself and the Democratic candidate.  Not just the bio that they did before, but an actual debate.  Alternately, a question/answer column with you guys asking the questions and us answering the questions.  That might even be better.  You know what you want.

This summer, I’ll be visiting some areas of the precinct and talking with everyone I can.

I want to know what your concerns are, what you think is wrong, what needs to be fixed and any ideas you have that could help.

It’s time to get serious.   You have a choice between me and another Democrat.  I can’t promise I’ll do everything right, but I can promise that I will try to lower taxes, reduce the county budget, and fix Ford Park… not to mention getting some common sense into the government.

April 4, 2008 Posted by | Campaign, Jefferson County, Libertarian, Politics, Port Arthur | Leave a comment

Just to Prove the County Doesn’t Listen

So, they didn’t listen when we didn’t want Ford Park.  Now that we have it and our hockey team is doing fantastic, they want to get rid of the hockey team… again, in spite of all the people that want the team to stay.

Sigh.

April 2, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment