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City council faces dilemmatic choice, meeting tonight

September 12, 2016 By:George Boehme

City Council, Local News

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Tonight, the West University Place City Council meets at 6:30 in the Municipal Building at 3800 University Boulevard.

Two items of interest – taxes, and an unusual lawsuit against the city.

City council to set tax rate
The Chief Appraiser of the Harris County Appraisal District set West University Place property values for 2016 at $6,185,974,556, an increase of 7.79% from 2015. Chapter 26 of the Texas Property Tax Code requires the city council to adopt a maximum tax rate and schedule two public hearings.

The tax rate for 2015 was 33.179 cents per $100 value. The proposed maximum tax rate for 2016 to be considered at tonight’s meeting is 31.68 cents per $100 value.

This is a proposed tax rate decrease, but it would be a tax revenue increase because of the almost 8% increase in property valuations.

To add some confusion to the mix – it is unlikely the city council will ultimately implement the proposed maximum rate adopted tonight. This rate is a legally required starting point to begin the annual budget discussion. But at a meeting on Monday, October 17, the city council will adopt the city’s annual budget and then they will adopt a tax rate that funds the budget. The actual tax rate finally implemented will likely be lower than the rate the city council will adopt this evening.

City council in legal lockbox
The city council was pushed into choppy legal waters by a ruling from the city’s Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Corporate mega-giant AT&T sued the ZBA for overturning the ruling of West U’s chief zoning official and its city attorney. Now the 127th Judicial District Court is waiting for the ZBA to respond to the lawsuit.  LAWSUIT

However, the ZBA has no budget or litigation authority. So decisions about the litigation and any related costs are decided by the city council and the associated costs are borne by West U taxpayers.

Who does the city council defend? The city staff and city attorney? Or the ZBA? This lawsuit puts councilmembers in a dilemmatic situation. If they back the ZBA, they will be taking the position that their own zoning official and city attorney don’t understand the zoning rules and law. However, if they don’t back the ZBA, what kind of support message does that send to West U’s volunteer boards and commissions?

The discussion about the lawsuit will be behind closed doors, a right given city councils under Section 551.071 of the Texas Open Meetings Act.

6 Responses to “City council faces dilemmatic choice, meeting tonight”

  1. Muddog Says:

    The rate should be .30 per 100. Council needs to remember this is Our money, not theirs.. also, Its time for zero based budgeting…

    Reply

    • Anonymous Says:

      It does appear that WUP leadership has forgotten whose money they manage. Over and over again, tax money is used for staff benefits, not WUP citizens! WUP staff constantly have a hand out for more money, $81,000. lights, new systems, unnecessary fences, extra trees (on sale) blocking a beautiful oak tree, money for wellness checks, which is a duplicate service since staff already have gold standard medical which covers wellness checks, etc. VOTE FOR DIFFERENT, FISCALLY RESPOONSIBLE LEADERSHIP NEXT TIME!

      Reply

  2. Anonymous Says:

    City Council voted to give tax money to the fire department. This money is for physicals. Recently, WUP staff got gold standard health care that includes wellness check. So, the City Council voted to spend tax money for duplicate services. The fire department representative stated his people couldn’t get their health records. Why not? I can get my health records online. Could they not ask the doctor for a copy? These are not special test we are buying. We are paying for blood work, x-rays, etc. This is a total waste of tax money!

    Reply

  3. Anonymous Says:

    The Board members of WUP are invited to private parties and coerced into positions that side with city council. On the rare occasion a board has a unanimous vote opposite of city council, the board was instructed to go back and discuss it again. WUP boards are NOT supporting citizens, they support the mayor and city council! The Senior Board was in favor of a Senior exemption. A Senior Exemption is not on any upcoming city council meetings despite many, many Seniors showing up in favor of a long overdue exemption. But, city council was happy to approve $81,000. to fix the lights at the tennis courts. We must be spending tax money on lighting the tennis courts for non-resident use!

    Reply

  4. Les Albin Says:

    West U City Council has a long history of ignoring the recommendations of the various boards and commissions. More than fifteen years ago the Building Standards Commission made recommendations that would have significantly reduced maintenance and cost of Ownership of homes in West U, but Council ignored the recommendations. Several years later the boards made a recommendation to correct an oversight in the building requirements and require a minimum 10 ft driveway width to garages at the rear (there was no minimum specified). At that time Council decided not to specify a minimum width for driveways even though street parking had already a topic of conversation on several occasions.

    Recently Council decided not to require homes to be built above base flood elevation. Instead a recommendation was accepted to build homes a minimum distance above the existing dirt regardless of what the flood history of the area has been.

    West U council has never had a shortage of intelligence or education. History has shown however that experience and success in other fields does not always translate into the best decisions for the city.

    Reply

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