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From the Sidelines: Sales tax increase needed

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Dick Cook
Dick Cook

by Dick Cook, Double Oak Mayor Emeritus

Double Oak has from its founding been very careful with money.  When established, no property tax was levied.  When I first became active in town affairs in the early ‘90s, property taxes had increased to 18.8 cents per hundred dollar valuation which included 5 cents dedicated to roads and drainage issues.  Roads were in pretty bad shape then but focusing on fixing the worst roads first got us back in shape.

We didn’t have much of a security problem.  We had a small police force headed by part-time police chief, Rick Braud and his wife, Sergeant Bobbie.  They lived in town and were able to handle everything that came their way.  If we had troublemakers in our midst, Rick and Bobbie knew who to deal with to resolve the problems.  If a horse or other livestock wandered from home, Bobbie Braud knew who owned the critter and would escort it home.

Early on, we’ve had a first rate volunteer fire department.  They raised much of the money needed to operate by putting on the July Fourth Parade and Picnic and over the years, the town donated funds as well.  Today this group is so highly rated our insurance rates have decreased!

As population grew in our immediate area, Double Oak roads became a cut through for commuters and speeders threatened our safe streets.  Residents asked town leadership to establish a seven day, twenty-four hour police presence.  Today we have a first rate police force and just in time.  Crime has increased with population pressure.  Double Oak has experienced serious urban crime including two kidnapping cases.  Both crimes were solved.  The perpetrators were put in jail and the victims rescued frightened but unharmed.

As years passed, costs increased.  Gradually our expenses grew larger than our income.  But times were tough and the town leadership did not increase taxes.  Now new legislation allows the town to contemplate an increase in sales tax.  Current sales tax in Double Oak is 7.25%.  Of that 7.25% the town keeps 1%.  At our May Election, we will have the opportunity to vote to double our part of the tax from 1% to 2%.

The town needs the money.  Over the past few years we’ve balanced the budget at the detriment to our infrastructure.  Needed road repair has been postponed along with drainage improvements.  Money saved in a rainy day account has been savaged.  The advantage of a sales tax increase over all other possibilities is that non-residents that spend money in Double Oak get to contribute as well.  That seems more palatable than any other alternative.

Current town leadership is still as fiscally responsible as our founders but they have seen the need to increase the sales tax.  I’ve never seen a tax I liked but I agree with them this time.  I fully support the sales tax increase and will vote for it in our May election and urge all residents to do the same.  Anyone with questions should call the Mayor or your favorite Town Council person.  If you prefer, call me at 817-430-1427 and I’ll do my best to answer.

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