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Joined: Sep 08 2014
Location: Coleman, TX
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    Posted: Oct 04 2016 at 6:02pm

Following up on a previous Meanderings on how our sales tax dollars are being allocated, there is no mystery. After the state takes its 6.25% share of the 8.25% allowed and the city receives its 1% share, the remaining 1% is divided up between the two economic development corporations we have in Coleman. The city’s 1% share amounts to an estimated $400,000 in this year’s budget; an additional estimated $200,000 each goes to the 4A CEDC and the 4B CCC.

The 4A Coleman Economic Development Corporation (CEDC), as previously discussed, began receiving their portion of sales tax in 1990 and we began receiving our property tax relief from the remaining one-half of 1%. The voters elected to approve the formation of the 4B Coleman Community Coalition in 2010. Since the sales tax already stood at the maximum 8.25% at the time of the election, the decision was made by those who were instrumental in bringing this new 4B corporation idea to the ballot decided to ask the voter to eliminate the property relief tax.

Now, I have a little personal knowledge on how all that came about and, seeing how things have turned out, I would like to apologize for my part in having the measure on the May 2010 ballot that eliminated your property tax relief. I can tell you that it was not my intent. It happened like this.

After being so distressed over Coleman’s inertia and after researching all the various projects a 4B economic development corporation could fund as opposed to the strict laws that limited 4A corporation projects, I came to the conclusion that the 4B EDC was just what Coleman needed to revitalize our community. The 4A law basically limited what a 4A EDC could spend money on to bringing manufacturing jobs to town—a tall order. However, the 4B economic development corporation could do everything the 4A corporation could do, plus much more. (Keep in mind that the 4B economic development corporation choice was not made available by the state until well after the 1989 vote for the 4A corporation.)

The 4B project choices included quality of life projects; i.e., beautification projects to make the community more attractive for residents as well as to visitors who might choose to relocate or retire in Coleman; funding for recreation/park projects, especially something for kids to do; dress up downtown and our ingress/egress roads; assist retail. There were still rules and regulations on how the 4B sales tax revenue could be spent, but it was more wide open with opportunity to improve Coleman’s overall life-style and look, especially for those of us who are already here.

Knowing an old lady wouldn’t hold much sway in influencing a vote for this new idea, I approached two “youngsters” who had deep roots in Coleman to see if they were interested in asking the voters to opt for a 4B EDC in Coleman to replace the 4A EDC. Those youngsters were Evan Autry and Greg Martin.

Both Evan and Greg liked the sound of what a 4B corporation could do. But (a big BUT), no way were they going to ask that the 4A EDC be disbanded to be replaced with the 4B in order to protect property tax relief. “These are men I have known all my life.” “These men are the leaders in Coleman.” “If you want our support, you’ll have to forget about replacing the 4A.” “We’ll have to campaign to keep the 4A corporation, add the 4B corporation, and eliminate the property tax relief percent or we won’t support you.” Okay. I folded. We won the election, one of a very few elections across the state that resulted in two economic development corporations in one town. We also lost our property tax relief.

Now, folks, I could start going into great and gory detail about what our sales tax has accomplished for Coleman over the years the two corporations have been in existence. I’m not going to do that. I am going to concentrate on the 4B project that has recently caught my attention: a proposition to spend an estimated $850,000+ of 4B sales tax dollars, $700,000 of which would be borrowed from the USDA, to provide a facility for a workforce development center in Coleman. Note that this money is only to provide “the facility” by buying and renovating the old Taylor motor company building across from city hall.

But, before I get into that, let me bring up a possibility for your consideration on how your tax dollars are spent. It is my opinion (and I know I’m not the only one with this opinion) that we should backtrack a bit and re-think having two EDC corporations. Our city council has full control over our EDC corporations, and, under EDC law, it could choose to dissolve the 4A EDC corporation, with all its assets/money reverting to the city. I know that’s not going to happen. Even the 4A board itself could vote for dissolution. I know that’s not going to happen. However, a petition by 10% of registered city of Coleman voters could demand an election on the issue. It wouldn’t be a matter of city council hiring lawyers and saying they refuse to hold an election. An election is simply required once the council receives the petition. The law in Local Government Code, Sec. 504.351, says, in part: “On petition of 10 percent or more of the registered voters..., the governing body of the municipality shall order an election on the issue.”

A petition can be prepared. We could use that one-half of 1% sales tax in various different ways, not the least of which would have to do with a new jail. I’ll leave it at that for the moment.

Let’s consider the 4B workforce development center project first.


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