A Texas mayor accused one of the state’s largest advocacy organizations of publishing “misleading information,” but he’s the one who appears most guilty of misleading the public.
Recently, Mayor Craig Morgan tweeted a picture of a political mail flier and expressed his disdain of it. The mailer was from the Texas Association of Realtors and described the escalating property tax disaster across the state.
“Property taxes are out of control!” the mailer read. “In 20 years (1995-2015), the total property tax levy has increased 227.16%.”
On the back of the flier is a graph showing how much school, county, city, and special district taxes have shot up.
“I am tired of this type of misleading information by organizations and politicians,” tweeted Morgan. “Our citizens should demand solutions over sound bites.”
Morgan is correct that the mailer doesn’t give the full context of the property tax situation (no mailer could), but what the realtors said is factual. The rest of Morgan’s tweet, however, is questionable:
“Please ask this association if it would be difficult to sell a house in a unsafe city, with dilapidated roads and failing school districts.”
Morgan has since deleted his tweet.
But while his tweet is gone, the argument remains one that Texans hear constantly from local government officials: that higher taxes are necessary for roads and safe cities.
Morgan has certainly backed up his words with action. Ever since joining the city council in 2011, Morgan has repeatedly voted to take more of homeowners’ money. The average Round Rock homeowner is paying roughly $300 more to the city than they did just six years ago.
But a look at the way Morgan and the city council have spent that money raises questions regarding whether they really needed to take more.
Instead of using tax money on essential needs, they have taken millions of homeowners’ hard-earned cash and spent it on special deals with hand-picked businesses: tech giant Emerson, Kalahari Waterpark Resort, the boutique Ruby Hotel, and numerous others have received cash payments, tax breaks, and other exclusive perks paid for by the taxpayer.
Oh, and the city council also spent $5 million last year to renovate a golf course that a fraction of the population uses. That money alone was enough to cancel the tax increase for the year.
Contrary to Mayor Morgan’s tweet and his spending choices with citizens’ money, the city doesn’t seem to be facing a crisis of dilapidated roads and failing school districts if the city council can’t get more of homeowners’ money.
There are times when a city needs to increase taxes to address legitimate needs; but in Round Rock’s case, the apparent solution isn’t to allow Mayor Morgan and the city council to take more money, but rather for them to stop the special deals and frivolous spending and better steward the tax dollars entrusted to them.