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November 7, 2017 Elections
Forum
Guidry News Forum
Galveston Bond Referendum
by Kevin Moran
Saturday, April 22, 2017

Sandra Arnold’s April 17 Guidry News “Forum” piece bad-mouthing the City of Galveston’s proposed $62-million bond issue starts with a total falsehood and goes downhill from there.

It’s not true, as she and failed Galveston City Council candidate Sean Cameron assert, that the city is violating the public’s trust by spending money from a 2008 bond issue on projects associated with this 2017 proposed bond issue. City officials have said time and again that moneys from different bond issues, designated for certain purposes, cannot be used for other projects or purposes. City officials will not improperly use 2008 bond money now, no matter what Arnold and a handful of other misinformed—and misleading—critics claim.

Island voters will consider the proposed $62-million bond issue at the Saturday, May, 6 election. The bonds will finance 50 miles of street construction and major repairs as well as improve drainage in some of the areas most prone to flooding that damages homes, businesses and vehicles and hurts the island’s economy. The projects comprise the largest infrastructure improvement plan since the seawall was built more than a century ago.

The city has a solid plan for using the bond money, with dozens of specific projects and their costs already earmarked. The bond money will accomplish in 5 years what would otherwise take 20 years and cost perhaps $50 million more in city tax dollars.

Arnold and her husband, Hud Hopkins, own rental properties in Galveston. They claim that tenants would be hit with large rent increases if the bond issue passes. If the bond issue is approved, the city tax on one property the couple owns on Rosenberg, or 25th Street, in Galveston would go up less than $59 per year, based on 2016 Galveston Central Appraisal District tax information. If that’s a rental property, they’d have to increase the rent less than $5 a month to stay even. For those unfamiliar with Galveston, that house is in a prime location that affords residents front-row seats for the city’s biggest Mardi Gras parades and an easy stroll to the beach and the Pleasure Pier amusement park.

According to appraisal district records, the couple in 2016 had at least seven other Galveston homes, besides their residence. The city tax increases on six of those properties if the bond issue passes would range from $21 to $56 per year. Passed on to tenants, rent hikes based solely on the bond issue would range from $1.75 to $4.66 per month. The tax increase on another residence the couple owns would run about $75 a year, or $6.25 a month. And the city tax increase on the couple’s residence, based on the 2016 taxable valuation? Just $38 per year, or $3.17 a month. Overburdened? I don’t think so.

The real numbers show that these and other landlords who have railed against the bond issue grossly exaggerate its effects on taxes and rents. Any landlord who boosts rents by $50 or $100 if the bond issue passes would be scamming tenants.

Besides small property owners like Hopkins and Arnold, the local apartment owners’ association has announced its opposition to the bond issue. They, too, exaggerate the effects of the city tax increase that would result from its passage. The added annual city tax, broken down by the number of units in major apartment complexes such as Driftwood, Fort Crockett, Island Bay, Ebbtide and Broadwater, would justify rent hikes of between about $8.50 to $13.00 a month, if owners choose to pass on the tax to tenants. Again, if the bond issue passes and your landlord cites it as a reason to bump your rent $50 or $100, you’re being scammed.

But the benefits to all of Galveston’s taxpayers, residents, tenants and visitors from the vast improvements to the city’s infrastructure can hardly be exaggerated.

So, don’t believe the nay-sayers that taxes will skyrocket if we vote to improve our city. Believe the professional staff at the city who have figured out a way to greatly improve our quality of life in five years and save us tens of millions of tax dollars in the future.

Vote “YES” on Proposition 1 on Saturday, May 6.





Remembering Jim Guidry GRCC Bay Area Houston Economic Partnership


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