Riding on backs of the poor

Someone stopped me this morning and asked if I had seen the letter in the Star from past mayor Connie de la Garza attacking former commissioner Robert Leftwich’s letter about the city’s tax rate.

I admit I had not and so I went immediately to the library to see if I could find it.

Unable to do so, I decided to continue my ongoing reading and study of the city budget and see if I could determine the facts.

The 2016 budget contains 359 pages of mind numbing detail. In order to make a fair assessment of the facts, it is necessary to go back to 2006 and try to establish a trend line showing details relating to our certified tax roll, sales and property tax revenues and rates.

In crunching through the numbers one sees what one expects to see … * That we have balanced the budget by deferring street maintenance; * We have driven sales tax revenue on the backs of the poor (tacos and dollar stores) But overall, the city’s financial condition has not too drastically deteriorated despite the off balance debt related to Bass Pro Sops and Cameron Crossing.

We will need to further dip into reserves, in my opinion, to do something about our miserable streets. And we will need to see about placing more exempt properties in the tax roll in order to expand the base.

But those are stop gap measures and really mess the point(s).

Harlingen’s no-growth and low wage economic development policies have led us to the point where we are desperate now, willing to give away the store for part time, low wage jobs.

We fail to build on our assets or to do what the 1969 Comprehensive Plan said was urgent and needed in our to attract quality jobs and industry (Clear away blight and substandard developments).

Yes, I know, the poor are fearful, don’t vote and many live from day to day on government transfer payments supplemented by pay-day loans, their purchases are mostly sales taxable so the city wins, right?

Kenneth J. Benton Harlingen Candidate for Mayor