There’s a bond issue election coming up this week in Dallas, where Democrat mayor Mike Rawlings – perhaps best known of late for his Mitch Landrieu-style crusade to take down a Robert E. Lee statue – has pushed no less than 10 line items on the ballot to issue bonds totalling $1.05 billion. The bond election is set for Tuesday, Nov. 7.
Rawlings’ bonds don’t carry with them a specific tax increase, and what’s likely is they’ll simply drive property assessments higher in Dallas and then property taxes will rise accordingly. That isn’t what the city of Dallas claims will happen, but it’s easy to predict.
Interestingly, Rawlings admitted earlier this year that Dallas has become a “barbell economy” in which there are lots of people on the rich and poor ends of the spectrum and few in the middle. Taking a billion dollars in property taxes out of the city’s private sector wouldn’t seem to be a particularly smart way to attract the middle class, but of course urban Democrats – regardless of what they might say – have no use for middle class families. Middle class families are a pain; they expect potholes to be fixed, safe streets, a road network that actually functions, schools which don’t suck, a city government not full of graft and corruption and proper drainage so their houses don’t flood. Those are not things urban Democrats want to focus on, and they certainly don’t make for a political resume that leads to higher office.
So, Rawlings is offering these 10 bond proposals totaling a billion dollars’ worth of addition to the city’s debt. And they’re for…
- Proposition A – Streets and Transportation: $534 million for Traffic Signals, Alley Reconstruction, Bridge Repair, Railroad Crossing Quiet Zones, Sidewalks, Street Reconstruction, and Street Resurfacing Projects.
- Proposition B – Parks and Recreation: $262 million for park and recreation facilities. Includes the Downtown Parks project, the Aquatics Master Plan, the Circuit Trail (The Loop), rehabilitation of recreation centers, trails and neighborhood park projects.
- Proposition C – Fair Park: $50 million to rehabilitate Dallas’ Fair Park facilities.
- Proposition D – Flood Protection & Storm Drainage: $49 million for local flood protection, storm drainage and erosion control projects throughout the City. The proposition will also fund the Vinemont Channel Improvement Project.
- Proposition E – Library Facilities: $16 million for three projects. The replacement of the Forest Green Branch Library, the construction of the new Vickery Meadow Branch Library and roofing/plumbing improvements at the J. Erik Jonsson Central Library.
- Proposition F – Cultural and Performing Arts Facilities: $14 million for rehabilitating the City’s cultural and performing arts facilities.
- Proposition G – Public Safety Facilities: $32 million for security enhancements to the Jack Evans Police Headquarters and 7 Police Substations, replacement of two Fire Stations, a new Fire Station and rehabilitation of multiple fire stations throughout the City.
- Proposition H – City Facilities: $18 million for projects to conduct rehabilitation and major maintenance at City Hall and multiple city facilities. Also includes the expansion of the West Dallas Multipurpose Center.
- Proposition I – Economic Development: $55 million for projects that suport commercial corridor revitalization, transit oriented development, mixed used deveopment, mixed income housing and neighborhood revitalization.
- Proposition J – Homeless Assistance Facilities: $20 million for permanent supportive housing targeting chronic homeless; rapid rehousing addressing the elderly, disabled, families with children and young adults; Day Centers for seamless wrap-around services.
You’ll notice a lot of the projects included in these bond proposals amount to building maintenance, which is something very typical of how the public sector manages its assets. In the private sector, physical plant maintenance is built into budgets on the basis that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. A private company owns or leases its facilities and recognizes it will come out of pocket for repairs, and so takes pains to minimize facility costs by keeping up what it has. The public sector is an entirely different animal, of course – in the public sector you let your physical plant run down to the point where it no longer functions and is an eyesore, because you can then sell the eyesore to the voters as something they must shell out for, and you hire an architect to produce extravagant designs for renovations or new facilities altogether.
Forget about the fact you’ve had building maintenance built into the budget for which you already tax the voters. That money is nothing more than a slush fund to be melted away on brother-in-law contracts and common graft.
Dallas, despite being on the whole a remarkably successful city, is no different. This collection of bond proposals proves it.
Given all of that, meet Big Tax, the creation of the Conservative Response Team, who looks an awful lot like Rawlings…