Life May Not Be Fair...But WE Should Be!

Posted by April Reiling on Oct 17, 2013
Tags: Community, Government, Town News, Government Consolidation

The following article was written by Council Member Danny Mayer.

As a member of the Town Council it is my belief that I have a responsibility to share with you, whenever possible, where I stand on an issue and to also share with you why I hold such beliefs. I want to be perfectly clear that what I have to say here is my opinion and my mine alone. It does not reflect the sentiment of the Council and I have used no Town assets in preparing this statement. I apologize in advance for the long read but important issues cannot be dealt with on a postcard.

The only argument that has been put forth by those that desire to keep a portion of Westlake within the Trophy Club Municipal Utility District is the revenue that it receives from ad valorem taxes. This is a shameful argument!

It is shameful because advocates attempt to justify this argument by saying that Westlake and the people that live there are rich and can afford it. Imagine that there are those that actually believe that it is fair to levy a tax simply because the person paying the tax is rich or is perceived to be rich. Of course it is understandable why they might think this is acceptable because this is the attitude that the current Administration in Washington has adopted. Just because Washington uses this logic does not mean that Trophy Club should. Westlake has no obligation to subsidize the citizens of Trophy Club.

Ad valorem taxes are levied by municipal governments to pay for city services such as fire protection, police protection, infrastructure, etc. Westlake levies such a tax and provides all of these services to their property owners in Westlake. Westlake does not provide water or waste water services to a small area in Solana but they levy an ad valorem tax. The TCMUD provides water and waste water services to this area and also levies an ad valorem tax. It does not stop there.  

The TCMUD also levies an ad valorem to all of the rest of Westlake that lies within the geographical boundaries of the TCMUD district. Up to now the property owners of the undeveloped land have been paying the TCMUD every year. In return for the taxes paid to the TCMUD the TCMUD provides no actual services to this large portion of Westlake except to service Westlake’s “fair share” of the debt service (I&S) incurred by the TCMUD.

Part of the tax levy is 8.738 cents per $100 of taxable value for fire services. I use that amount because that is the amount that is the “fair share” for every “customer” served by TCMUD. The property owners in Westlake/Solana pay this levy but are not serviced by the Trophy Club Fire Department. In fact, approximately 60% of every tax dollar paid to the TCMUD, by Westlake tax payers, exceeds their “fair share.”

Earlier this year the Town of Westlake and Centurion American announced a new $500 million dollar development. This new development is located on the previously undeveloped part of Westlake that lies within the TCMUD boundaries. It has been reported, by a TCMUD Director, that all services for this new development will be provided by Westlake. This Director also reported that even though the land is geographically within the TCMUD boundaries the Town of Westlake and the developer are free to choose who provides services.

This is where the Washington thinking takes over with the TCMUD Directors. Even though they will not provide even the smallest of services their plan is to levy an ad valorem tax on the entire $500 million dollar project, including 48 single family homes. Just imagine buying a home and paying an ad valorem tax to your Town for all of your services and then get hit with an additional ad valorem tax simple because of your geographical location. It was recently mentioned that Westlake home owners can afford it because they already pay an extra $1000 just to live in Tarrant County.

The Trophy Club MUD Directors evidentially see themselves as Robin Hood and the Merry Men of Sherwood Forest, and Westlake as Nottingham. They justify this DOUBLE TAXATION by explaining that they are simply taking from the rich and subsidizing the poor residents of Trophy Club.

The TCMUD Directors have used the term “fair share” a lot recently. The use of that phrase doesn’t surprise me since it is also used in Washington to justify taxing the top wage earners, those couples whose combined income is in excess $250,000. It is my opinion that every property owner in Trophy Club is responsible to pay their “fair share.” It is also my opinion that asking property owners in Westlake to subsidize the residents of Trophy Club, with taxes for nothing, is immoral. Taking advantage of nothing more than a “loophole” in the law to tax people is just wrong. Have we forgotten the meaning of “spirit of the law?”

Trophy Club is on very sound financial footing. We have been able to lower taxes the past two budgets; through debt restructuring we will be able to build a new police facility and not ask any taxpayer to reach into their pocket for a single penny; and we have large reserves set aside to provide for the unknown. We have a five year plan in effect for street repairs and drainage issues and we have accomplished all of this through sound financial planning and good management of your tax dollars. I also want to make this point perfectly clear…the Town of Trophy Club does not receive a single dollar from Westlake. All of the taxes collected by the TCMUD go to the TCMUD.

Trophy Club is a wonderful place to live and we do not need to be viewed as the Town that needs a handout from our neighbors to survive. It would be a shameful act, in my opinion, to continue with this “Robin Hood” approach.

Danny Mayer
Trophy Club
Town Council Member