Monday, August 31, 2009
The title of this post comes from my decision to send that letter. I feel pretty comfortable writing in this forum, but to send something out for print just feels different. Maybe because I know the Star has about 1500 readers and I have...well I don't have that here. One of the reasons I ran for office though was to make sure the whole story got out and I don't think this whole story has gotten out yet.
Like me or not I'm willing to make a few mistakes and be proven wrong so if I think something needs to be said I'm going to say it. Whether the Star chooses to print it is up to them.
Sunday, August 23, 2009
The Armor of God
10Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil's schemes. 12For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
19Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.
Friday, August 21, 2009
A win for the residents around 103 Veatch St. I was going to vote against the zoning change from residential to commercial and I believe most of the council would have as well, but the applicant, Johnson County Special Utility District, withdrew the request after having entering into a contract with their high-bidder, a residential buyer.
A loss for small government and low taxes (and fees). To my surprise a majority of the council voted to move our trash collection billing from IESI, our trash collection provider, to the city as a function of our local government. You may be told it's to save you money, but guess again. Our trash collection services will remain the same with two pickups per week and one recycling pickup per week. Since our grant expired on our recycling our monthly rate was going to go up to $15.86 per month. We had an option from IESI to reduce that rate to $14.50 per month if the city started doing the billing instead of them. Councilman Isom, Smallwood, Tallent, Neely and Mayor Breitenstein all voted to save you $1.36 per month. Or did they? The cost to the city to do the billing will be thousands of dollars and more work for our current staff, but that's not the worst of it. With the city now sending you a bill every quarter there's another revenue option on the table - Drainage Fee. Remember that term because you'll see it on a council agenda at some point in the future and you better be ready to voice your opinion. Here's what it could look like for you if it comes up:
Our city attorney stated last night that other municipalities that have instituted drainage fees charge between $3 and $8 per month. If Joshua adopts a fee in that range then there goes your $1.36.
Now granted, we have drainage issues in the city. Even if bond prop 3 passes this November it will take millions to fix everything that the engineers think need to be done. The severity and necessity are debatable in my non-professional opinion, but let's look at the headway a drainage fee might make. At $3 per month with approximately 2000 billed households that's $72,000 per year revenue to the city. $8 per month would generate $192,000 per year. That would probably be more than enough to maintain our drainage systems once corrected, but it's a drop in the flood on getting the initial work done.
Let me put this in perspective for you another way. Increasing our property tax rate one cent raises about $26,000 per year for the city so a $3 drainage fee is equal to about a 3 cent property tax increase. We the council just proposed a 2 cent decrease in the property tax rate so, like your $1.36 trash savings, that would be gone too.
This is just one more way to nickel and dime more money out of us and even Councilman Neely who voted against the bond election altogether because of his Arlington Tea Party ties voted this one in last night. I guess adding a billing system for a service provided by a private sector business that could lead to higher taxes renamed as a fee is different from just being up front and raising property taxes. Got to love politics.
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Is the Arlington Tea Party against letting the taxpayers decide if they want to raise their own taxes to pay for improvements to the city? Because that's what we voted to do last week - let the people of Joshua decide.
Do you understand that if only one of the three propositions passes that taxes will not go up? Maybe after reading the rest of this week's paper you'll recall that Joshua may in fact receive $1 million from the federal government for further drainage work in the federal government controlled waterway you refer to (commonly known as Village Creek on the Mountain Valley Country Club golf course). Do you remember that we actually have about $7 million in drainage projects, but are only asking the taxpayers if they would like to take on about $2.5 million right now? Do you remember that the drainage projects in the bond proposition are not any of the federal government controlled waterways, but in fact city of Joshua easements and roadways?
Maybe we'll get even more federal funds for future work as you would like. After all, federal money just magically appears and never comes from raising taxes.
I just sent this email to Chet Edwards office:
It was a pleasure to meet you on Tuesday in Joshua. While I disagree with the idea of congressional earmarks I appreciate you working to get some of that money into Joshua for our park project and drainage project needs while such a funding system is still in place in
I will be in attendance at a Joshua city council meeting during your telephone town hall this evening so I wanted to pass on my thoughts on the healthcare subject. Judging by your comments in the Cleburne Times Review yesterday it sounds as though you have not yet read the entire House Bill. At the risk of repeating rhetoric I do request that you read it in its entirety before it comes to the floor for a vote. I will be doing so as well to best inform my constituents.
The level of public debate on this issue is quite interesting, but now after several heated weeks it’s becoming a bit monotonous. I don’t see much getting accomplished when both sides simply repeat the same talking points over and over so I’ll try not to give you more conservative talk radio rhetoric and I would appreciate it if you would not respond with White House rhetoric.
Looking at the bill as a whole I have to agree with Representative Sessions when he said he would rather we work on the 30 million or so people that are under insured or uninsured instead of trying to change the other 250 million or so that have something in place. At least if we’re still going to attack this from a healthcare reform angle. I do recognize, however, that even the overwhelming majority who do have coverage need some help too because the costs are out of hand. I’m a self-employed individual and my wife does not work outside the home. I pay over $500 per month for coverage for us and our two boys with a $5000 deductible and I’ve done plenty of shopping to get that rate. That’s too high. We need an overall health insurance reform.
On the under insured and uninsured I think we should look at a Medicare overhaul and expansion. We already have the basis of a system there run by the government that if run well (which is the hard part) could help those in need with far less an impact on the rest of the taxpayers to fund it. Medicare could become an opt-in option for those below a certain income level, the elderly, disabled, etc. with Illegal aliens absolutely denied.
For the majority we need serious health insurance control. Health insurance needs to become as easy as car insurance to price and purchase. Any individual should be able to get the same rate as a group especially when as few as two people in a company can now be a “group”. With standardized pricing at each insurance company competition would abound. The paperwork that would be eliminated by all persons having the same rate for the level of coverage they choose and no exclusions on what is covered would drastically cut payroll costs for doctors who now have to have dedicated staff to deal with insurance companies. That reduction in cost would reduce the amount the doctors would have to charge and the whole system would come down a notch or two.
The next item to reduce costs on the doctor and insurance sides is tort reform. The costs rolled down to Americans due to frivolous and exorbitant lawsuits are huge. Doctors are no doubt calling for tests that are unnecessary to cover themselves from misdiagnosis claims. We and the insurance companies are paying for that. The doctors have to pay enormous costs for liability insurance and we are paying for that too.
Sir, there is plenty that can be done in 1000 pages of congressional paper without bringing every American’s healthcare under the wing of a government already riddled with waste, bureaucracy and over spending.
Thank you for your time and I look forward to your response.
Friday, August 14, 2009
Wednesday, August 5, 2009
If you don't know what the line item on your property taxes that reads "Emer Serv District 1" is, you need to. The Emergency Services District or ESD is a taxing body to provide emergency services to those who live outside the city limits. The Johnson County ESD is divided up into several areas all served through cities that are under contract with the ESD to actually provide the service to the county based residents. It's a great idea when executed properly and fairly, but as with all contracts the terms sometimes need to be renegotiated to make sure all parties are benefiting. That's the case now with the city of
For our current budget year to date our fire department has spent 53% of it's time providing services to residents outside the city limits of Joshua. Last year the total was 60%. Now that might be fine if the ESD provided 50%-60% of the Fire Department budget, but they do not. Last year Joshua received a mere $93,000 from the ESD and if the city of
This imbalance goes deeper though. Because of the high number of calls that our fire department has to deal with outside the city limits we put significantly more wear and tear on our vehicles and equipment, not to mention our volunteers. In addition we have more equipment and vehicles than we would need if we were only serving the city of
Underneath the ESD line item on your property taxes you'll see "City of
Now I don't want to just leave this as a decision on numbers. There's a human element to this. The people who live outside the city limits need someone to respond to them for fires and medical emergencies, but the taxpaying citizens of Joshua need to be fairly compensated for the service. If Joshua were to discontinue the service it would be a huge savings for our citizens and other departments would have to take up the area that Joshua now serves. Our department would provide mutual aid when needed just like we do now for Burleson or
I'd like to hear your opinion. You can email me at AJ@ajmathieu.com or call Joshua city hall at 817-558-7447 and leave a message for any city council member. The Johnson County ESD can be reached at 817-556-2212.