A recent Boswell campaign ad declared that he listened to citizens and has kept property taxes low. Comparing Harlingen’s tax rate to much smaller cities like Combes, Santa Rosa, Rio Hondo and dozens of other tiny towns in the Cameron County area is disingenuous and misleading to voters.
The general fund is primarily funded through property and sales taxes. An honest comparison would have been against similar cities in size, property values and retail sales.
Harlingen, Brownsville and McAllen all annually have over a billion dollars in retail sales, yet Harlingen has the highest property tax rate.
When Boswell first took office as a commissioner, the city’s tax rate was around 49 cents per hundred, now it’s much higher at 59 cents. Also, the city’s debt was only a few million dollars, now it’s 10s of millions of dollars and the interest payment alone for taxpayers is hundreds thousands of dollars a year.
Over the last decade or so under Boswell, water rates, property tax rates and public debt have grown faster than at any other time.
Since the building boom of the school district, and its heavy-handed taxation, we have heard little about building activities in Harlingen. The fact is, besides forced annexation increasing the property tax base, Harlingen building activities are at the bottom of the list when compared to other similar sized cities in the Valley.
No doubt a result of over a decade of steady increases in fees and taxes affecting the Harlingen economy.
Then we read about the Baxter building, and the money-losing lopsided property trade our city leaders dealt taxpayers. Using job-creating economic development corporation money on horse trading a $700,000 plus commercial property for a $100,000 dilapidated zombie money pit. And now, it is uncovered, that instead of the money helping to bring in jobs to help reduce the community’s need for subsidized housing, they are wasting jobs money on subsidized housing.
With Tudor as commissioner, interestingly, there is a new produce freezer paid for by Harlingen taxpayers in Los Indios where he owns warehouses, but no playground equipment at the Bonham park, or speed bumps for Bonham school to protect school children from speeders, which is in his own district.
If you like a garage sale economy from illogical and wasteful government spending and backroom insider dealings, then continue to vote for the status quo, but if you don’t, it’s time for changes.
Robert Leftwich Harlingen