Letter to the Editor,
First, I want to give you an update on my previous letter to the editor pertaining to the 83 year old woman who lost her ag exemption in 2018, even though it was reinstated for 2019. This loss of the ag exemption caused her 2018 taxes to be increased from $4,000 to $10,000. She was ready to take her case to arbitration and fight to reverse the decision of the Appraisal Review Board, but members of her family discouraged her, primarily her son, and they decided to go ahead and pay the additional monies. The reason was str ess. Most of us old folks know that we do not handle stressful situations the way we used to. In my opinion this elderly lady should’ve never had to go through this crap in the first place.
Which brings me to the main factor which I need to convey to the management of this county.
All you have to do is look around as you drive through the county and see all the things that are closed and not there anymore. For example, the Comanche hospital was closed and replaced with the heavily indebted new hospital in a joint venture with De Leon which I might add went through many years of financial struggles and downsizing. The only thing that has continued to grow is the building projects of the local school systems. Here’s the point, there is a deficit of common sense in the rulings of many governmental boar ds. The most pervasive is the Comanche Central Appraisal District and its Appraisal Review Board, which in effect is pushing the county further and further down into a hole of no return over their inability to apply common sense and common analysis to appraisal values of properties. The simple fact is our appraisal chief has no real applied experience as far as property evaluation is concerned, however, she does have the state compliance issue back under control. But the simple appraisal of property is totally and completely out of line with true values and the application of common sense. For example, PAR Country Club taxes were increased from around $14,000 to over
$24,000. This is too high considering a lot of PAR’s property in a flowage easement area for Lake Proctor. Furthermore, PAR Country Club is the major, if not the only, draw for people to move to this county because a lot of retirees like to play golf and want to live near a golf course. There are approximately 150 homes in the area that are occupied by active golfers who have moved here and/or have stayed here because of this golf course. Then the appraisal district raises the taxes on these homes and this golf course. The taxes are so much of a burden on PAR that it falls on members to volunteer their labor and contributions to keep the course open and in fairly competitive shape which is necessary to make tournaments held there draw participants from out of town to help the revenue stream.
Without these volunteers and their financial contributions this course would’ve closed a long time ago and what would’ve happened? Many of the homes would’ve had at least a 30% reduction in value because of their close proximity to the country club. Some of you will say we would still have the lake and people come here to fish and boat but the Corps of Engineers have closed this lake so many times they have destroyed the campsites utilization and many of the campsites are now closed.
Congressional funding is one reason, however, lack of use due to the multiple closings is the primary reason.
I was approached the other day with one of the opponents to my thinking, and he said, Okay Moon what would you do if you ran this county. The answer was easy, this county from my point of view is a retirement County where retirees come and buy property and invest in various and sundry activities to live out their remaining years. That is the number one value of Comanche County, and behind that we have had many people move here to play golf and be close to PAR Country Club. So, one of the first things I would do would make the club tax exempt putting $24,500 back into the operating monies to improve the cart paths, the fairways and greens and facilities to make the course more competitive. The second thing I would do is to get a consortium of investors to build bungalow type housing with square footage is of 1000 feet to 1200 ft. to bring retirees to the area with a 10 year tax exemption to the investors much in the same fashion that big tax exemptions and low evaluations were applied to the wind farms which get all types of federal government subsidies. It is my opinion that tax breaks for PAR Country Club and the resulting improvements would benefit the whole county. What would be achieved is that more people relocating here with retirement funds and living in our communities in close proximity to the businesses would boost the economy. Plus a great number of them would be relocating here because of the medical facilities and would take advantage of these services. They would shop at our grocery stores, support other businesses and even start small businesses.
The individual shook his head and said well that’s all well and good, but would you invest in this county if you had an incentive to do it. The answer is yes, the fact is I have invested in this county by buying a ranch here 37 years ago and moved my consulting business here. I had no family here and Comanche County was totally foreign to me. I have also bought properties other than the ranch and sold them with the purpose of making a profit. Some worked out, some didn’t. In the last five years I have made no investments, nor will I with the tax philosophy that exists in this county, and I am only one of many who feel the same way. I heard on the news the other day that over 600,000 people in the last couple years have left New York State. New Jersey is having the same problem as well as many of the other northern states which are having taxing motivated movement out of the states. Comanche County has a little of this, but if the philosophy continues to be high taxation, it will surely kill what’s left of Comanche County. It’s time this high tax philosophy changes before it’s too late. We need a change in the appraisal district management. It is so obvious our appraisal chief is completely out of touch with the reality of what these high taxes are doing to our communities. And she is in concert with school superintendents who don’t consider lowering the tax rates and push for higher appraisals to get more monies to expand their facilities without having to have a bond election where the people choose if, where and when their tax monies are spent.
I know that for many years the heads of local government have been against giving tax breaks to industry to move into the county and create jobs. Having no industry taxes to fund government is one of the reasons our taxes are so high compared to other areas. I am sure that this letter will create a negative vibe for many of our governmental leaders, but the good old boy and the family names that have run this county for years should realize that this county is dying. One day like the town of Dublin, highways will bypass the congested areas of the small towns and our businesses will lose that stop and go traffic. When I made this statement several said that I was nuts, but as Texas grows, and the Port of Houston grows, and West Texas population grows and the oil field continues to grow, the traffic flow to West Texas is going to have to improve, and this always turns out to be driving around the small towns. It may not be in the very near future, but it is coming so be aware. If you can come up with a better idea to save this county, be sure to express it.
Keith Moon, Comanche