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Bev's Burner
Some's Hot, Some's Not 

By B.K. Carter

"Bev Carter is the owner/publisher of the Fort Bend Star, winner of numerous state and national awards. She has been a voice of Fort Bend's largest circulated newspaper for 30 years."


 

CAD, again......Unless youíve been hiking the Appalachian Trail since Fatherís Day, you probably know that a controversy about the Central Appraisal District is raging in Fort Bend.

First, during this economic downturn era, the Fort Bend CAD still increased the appraisal of most Fort Bend property.

Then when thousands of taxpayers showed up to protest their values during the only month they could, the CAD attempted to parlay that over-crowding into a new $6.4 million headquarters.

However, that plot has so far fallen short as the larger taxing entities in Fort Bend have refused to okay the plan.

Come to find out, at least 128 of the taxing entities in Fort Bend must give their blessing before the new quarters can be built. Evidently, it doesnít matter how big the taxing entities are; whether they are the huge FBISD, Lamar CISD, and Fort Bend County or the small water and levee districts. To date, 58 of the 191 taxing entities have approved the plan. Iím going to try to find out the 58 taxing entities and the names of their leaders. Iíll print them here for you so you can decide if you want to vote for them or not the next time around.

Meanwhile, Katy ISD has turned the CAD proposal down. Katy used the same trick that the county relied on--nobody offered a motion.

The way I heard it, the county had two commissioners who were agreeable to voting for the facility and two who opposed. This meant the County Judge would have to cast the deciding vote. Under pressure from some, the judge didnít want to have to reveal his hand so commissioners court came up with the routine of not making a motion and letting the proposal die. They claim that is legal.

Meanwhile, I got a correction about my explanation in this column last week. According to the correction ďEntities votes to elect Board members to the CAD is not based on the number of properties in each entity but rather the levy amount of each entity.

FBISD levy (Taxable Value X Rate) would be the highest based on tax rate and value. The correct formula to get the number of votes for the election of board members is as follows:

Entity levy divided by total levy of all taxing entities = percent of vote

Example: If the total tax levy for all entities was $75,000,000 and Lamar CISD levy was 12,000,000 then they would get to have 16% of the total votes allowed.

The figure of 5,000 is used for the total amount of votes to be given.

5000 X .16 = 800 votes

These figures are used as an example.

For the vote on the proposed new building, each entity is entitled to only one vote, no matter what their levy is, so the City of Kendleton has the same number of votes as Fort Bend County, which is one."

Now thatís scary, isnít it?

And now for something entirely different.....In the 31 years Iíve published a newspaper and covered Fort Bend County, Iíve seen many elected officials come and go. Youíve probably read my twits, gibes, jeers, jests, and scoffs about the actions of various of them over the years. You may have even read a few mild complaints Iíve had about Stafford Mayor Leonard Scarcella. Heavens knows, Mayor Scarcella isnít perfect. He would be the first to admit it. For one thing, city council meetings last too long. And sometimes the council, led by the mayor seems to belabor a point for too long. They have been known to talk about the July 4th celebration every meeting for 52 weeks before. (That may be an exaggeration, but not by much.)

But that same tenacity and commitment to the city has paid dividends over the years to the city of Stafford.

I noticed the other day that all the construction work involving the streets and roads in Stafford are finally complete. The landscaping is even in (and looks wonderful!).

So a little history is in order about this new construction. Many, many years ago TXDOT was determined to build overpasses over much of Stafford. This would have been the death knell for much of the commercial interests in Stafford. It would have meant a constant shadow over the stores and businesses along Hwy. 90 and FM 1092 with main streets not only passing over them but casting a sunless atmosphere over the businesses.

A less determined leader of the city would have shrugged and said ďYou canít fight TX-DOT.Ē But Mayor Scarcella was committed to preserving the commercial interests in Stafford and thus began a decade-long campaign to make sure that Stafford was protected in the ensuing redesign of the roads.

He realized early on that traffic congestion was as much a disruption of commerce as ugly overpasses. So while he knew that something would be done, he wanted Stafford to have a voice in its planning.

What you see today with the surface level streets remaining the same and the congestion-easing roads in the form of underpasses is the best that Stafford could hope for. And Leonard Scarcella is the reason it has turned out as well as it has.

This is what happens when you have an elected official that is not only committed to his city, but is also willing and able to stay for the long haul to get the job done.

Admittedly, over the years Staffordís commercial star has dimmed as Sugar Land and the Hwy. 6 area have developed large neighborhoods and huge shopping destinations.

But with Staffordís congestion easing as Sugar Landís has grown, I feel sure that Stafford will eventually reclaim its commercial appeal.

Contact bkcstar@earthlink.net, if you would like to express your opinions/views regarding the column. Write a SIGNED letter to the editor with valid day time phone number--name can be withheld by request.

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   Last Update:
September 10, 2009