Cronyism, corruption, and waste are inefficiencies that bring our cities, counties, states, and our country down. These inefficiencies take a nasty toll on people and businesses over time. It is a literal toll in the form of taxes. Taxes are a necessary duty of citizens in order to fund our public safety, infrastructure, educational system, and to enhance the quality of life we enjoy. But inefficiencies in spending over time unnecessarily inflate taxes.
We reduced the required net municipal revenues by ~$52 million. We reduced our municipal net spending by ~$49 million. To put that reduction in spending into perspective, with Denton’s population of ~134,000 people a cut in spending of ~$49million translates to a reduction of ~$365 per person in 2017/18.
The families that I represent, engage with in our schools, and have as neighbors and friends all feel very real pain when their property taxes go up every year. And property tax increases impact property owners and renters alike (where increased property taxes are passed on to renters in the form of higher rents). An annual increase in property taxes puts many families in our communities in a state of very real financial stress. That increase competes with household budgets for food, fuel, utilities, necessities, and other bills. Year over year increases in property taxes lead our most vulnerable families to evaluate whether or not remaining here is a viable and sustainable option for them.
I am in my third year as a city council member in Denton. In the past three years I have seen and fought cronyism. I have seen and fought corruption. I have seen and fought significant waste and inefficiency. I know who I represent and it has made me angry to see these good and hard-working people continually asked to pay more and more taxes when I know that we haven’t historically been the best stewards of our taxpayers’ dollars.
The key flaws in government spending are a lack of transparency and accountability; a lack of goals and measurement; a lack of rigorous testing and questioning prior to investment; and a lack of focus on the basics. These flaws lead to inefficient and ineffective use of taxpayer dollars. I am proud to have played a roll in Denton in attacking these flaws in government, and I can do the same for the State of Texas and the people of Senate District 30.
Transparency, accountability, goals, measurement, rigorous testing and questioning are hard and uncomfortable for people, departments, agencies, and organizations that are not used to them. It can feel like and attack. But I assure you that it is not an attack, it’s good government. The people of Texas and Senate District 30 deserve good government. The people of Senate District 30 deserve to know that their tax dollars are being used effectively and efficiently and that the spending that occurs will have quantitative and qualitative measures in place to show that we are improving our public safety, infrastructure, and overall quality of life.
In the City of Denton our most recent budget was set with the following priorities:
For the first time in our city’s history we were able to pass a budget based on the effective property tax rate, in this case ~$0.64 per $100 evaluation. This rate is ~$0.05 per $100 valuation less than the rate for 2016/17 budget. [It is important to note that property taxes that we pay are levied by three independent taxing entities: the City of Denton, Denton County, and the Denton Independent School District. Each of these three entities set their own property tax rates and budgets. As a city council member I can only speak for and help control the City of Denton budget and tax rate.] We reduced the required net municipal revenues by ~$52 million. We reduced our municipal net spending by ~$49 million. To put that reduction in spending into perspective, with Denton’s population of ~134,000 people a cut in spending of ~$49million translates to a reduction of ~$365 per person in 2017/18.
Further, our budget even included a slight decrease in utility rates for the average Denton household.
We achieved this budget without cutting or decreasing the levels of our municipal services. We achieved this budget without having to freeze wages or reduce benefits – in fact we have the flexibility to increase both for our employees. It may sound like magic but its just good government. We worked with our city manager and our city staff across all departments to diligently look at spending, redundancies, processes, and organizational alignment in order to identify and eliminate inefficient spending on behalf of the taxpayers in the City of Denton. We have worked together to do a much better job of taking an “eyes wide open” approach to accountability with our management, staff, vendors, and community organizations which draw from tax payer funds. It’s not mean… it’s good government. It’s not short-sighted… it’s good government. It’s not political expediency… it’s good government. It’s not an attempt to destroy beneficial programs for the sake of saving money… it’s making sure these beneficial programs are accountable and have the positive impact they were intended to have so that we can confidently and sustainably keep these programs going over time. I can help do the same thing for the State of Texas and the people of Senate District 30.