An open letter to the city council of Rowlett

So, the Mayor of Rowlett, John Harper, just resigned under fire from damn near everybody.  He resigned because he said the citizens were just too stupid to let him “govern” them.  It’s just a final example of the level of arrogance and “action before thought”  Mr. Harper brought to city council meetings.

But, Ol’ John wasn’t alone in driving Rowlett to ruin. The city council has been implicitly responsible for the position in which the town now finds itself.  And if the city council and management follow the path that has been tread for the last 10 years, it’s only going to get worse.

Back when Rowlett was going through a boom, the city chose to give tax abatement to builders and retailers. Tax abatements with contracts that are STILL in effect in many cases. At the same time that the city was refusing to collect taxes from builders, Walmart, and Target, it raised the property taxes of homeowners. Raised it to the point where, when measured by square foot, Rowlett had the 3rd highest tax rate in the state.

And what did we get for all those property tax increases?

  • Budget cuts.
  • Fired Librarians.
  • Layoffs.
  • Infrastructure cuts.

All so Walmart could avoid paying taxes, a previous mayor could become the vice president of the builder with the largest tax abatement, and a previous city manager who cut and run as soon as his tea party birds came home to roost.

So, while I agree with many citizens that Mayor Harper thought of himself in the Royal “We”, and tended to believe that Mayors are supposed to “govern”, (an idea contrary to both law and common sense), what really got us into this mess was a more than decade long campaign to cut the taxes of massive corporations at the expense of the citizens in our community.

This is Tea Party Politics in action.  When you give tax breaks to the wealthiest people and corporations, the citizens get the burden of the infrastructure. And if they can’t bear the cost of the infrastructure, the infrastructure starts falling down.

Taxes are the price of democratic republic.  All members of the republic should pay their fair share. Even the really rich members. The burden of democracy cannot be placed solely on the backs of those who work for a living.

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