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From the Sidelines

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Taxes and next year’s budget:

A funny thing happened on the way to the new budget.  The Mayor and Town Council elected to plan to keep our tax rate the same as last year.  At first blush, it looked as if that would bring in pretty much the same tax money as last year and perhaps even a bit more.  What actually happened was that very few new homes were added last year.  Double Oak is about out of room for new houses.  Many existing homeowners, me included, protested and reduced our assessments.  The net resulted in less tax money to be collected next year for the town than this year.

What about your taxes?  Will they go down? What will happen?  Well, the rate stayed the same.  If your property valuation is higher, you’ll pay more tax.  If it’s lower, you’ll pay less.  In Double Oak, the staff and town council are very conservative with town funds.  Even so, we plan to provide small salary increases and spend what we need to spend to keep the town running.

All that notwithstanding, we’re getting less money but not that much.  The estimate is about $1,500 less.  That’s close to even.  The problem is that expenses do increase from year to year.  We operate so close to the line that we count pennies.  This year as always, staff was very careful with expenses.  We expect to end the year with some budgeted money remaining unspent.  We’re planning to use some of that money next year to tide us over.

It won’t happen in next year’s budget but I’d like to see a plan to spend more on roads and drainage.  For several years we pretty much ignored both roads and drainage.  In the last few years we’ve begun to get caught up again.  We’ve never believed in mammoth road projects that require bonds and such.  We’ve always managed to take care of roads with cash, a little bit at a time.  If handled that way we can keep up if we do a bit every year.

This year we’re having some additional professional patching done.  It is what we can afford and will keep us out of big trouble.  But long roads like Lake Trail Drive need attention.  The Roads and Drainage Committee is focused on the problem but more resources need to be directed towards roads and drainage in the future. 

The Town Council plans to vote on the final budget and tax rate September 19th.  Town Secretary Charlotte Allen has the new budget available at Town Hall for anyone who wants an advance copy.  It’s our money.  It needs to be spent in the best way to help the town.  Feel free to become informed and speak to the mayor or your favorite council person to express your opinion.

Double Oak Police:

A couple of weeks ago I was visiting Town Hall and talked to Police Chief Watson.  He and Lt. Rivas had just returned from a Denton Courtroom testifying in a kidnapping case. 

Many of you will remember it.  A Double Oak resident was kidnapped near town, forced into the trunk of her car and driven west.  Kidnapping is a federal crime and you can believe that when something like that happens in our little town, our police reach out for help at all levels.  But excellent police work right here in Double Oak by our officers was instrumental in solving the case.

The crime victim was returned home and several suspects were apprehended.  The trip to Denton was to testify in the trial of one of the suspects.  As I understand it, he was convicted and remains in jail with at least two others ready for trial.

I hate to think about crime in Double Oak but it happens.  In today’s world, no one is exempt.  But when it does happen here I am ever so thankful for our dedicated, professional police force.  The big reason that we had a police force initially was to protect our kids from speeders and other traffic violators.  That has been accomplished!

A friend asked me last weekend if cyclists still run stop signs.  I acknowledged that they do.  But sometimes they get ticketed for their trouble.  I used to drive the limit and pick up a train of drivers behind me, all wanting to exceed the limit.  Now I’m often back in the pack following a group respecting the limits.  I love it!

Somehow, I never thought about relying on our police force to protect us from and solve major crimes.  But they do.

 

Originally published in the September 2011 issues of The Cross Timbers Gazette

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