Tuesday, February 3, 2009

A CITY COMMISSION MEETING WITH SOME ACTUAL SUBSTANCE

The latter part of the City Commission meeting was actually interesting - now I qualify this with the fact I am a policy wonk. Pete Gonzalez did a pretty good job in advising the Commission that revenues are down. People should be paying particular attention to the history of how tax revenues go down during economic hardship in Mexico.

I do not believe all people fully appreciate the importance Matamoros plays to the Brownsville economy. The Harlingen mall is experiencing problems not being faced by the mall in Brownsville. First, Brownsville is larger than Harlingen, and second, Brownsville has Matamoros residents as a source of shoppers.

A second issue presented is, with the peso at something around 14:1, it is more cost efficient for many Brownsville residents to shop in Mexico. If we as Brownsville residents are shopping more in Mexico, then it means fewer tax revenues on the Brownsville side of the border.

I think the 2 million dollar short fall at the airport is misleading. My regular readers know I am no defender of this airport or its administration, but fair is fair. How much does the airport generate in revenue outside the airport? Somehow I think when you consider the jobs created at hotels, restaurants, car rentals, airlines, shopping - the benefit exceeds 2 million dollars. Beyond the job creation there is also the tax revenues generated by the visitors and all the workers who have jobs because of the airport.

In the end the numbers are not good. We must tighten our budget. The other day I was kind of angry when a realtor told me that the deal I thought I had on a house fell through. After hearing excuses for 3 days as to why there was no contract for me to sign, I finally got the truth - the listing agent found someone else to buy the house directly from him. This meant he did not have to share the fee with my agent. I am not mad anymore because I think the market is about to collapse even further. I think in 6 months the house will be worth about 10 thousand less than what the new owners just paid for it.

The mayor was right about property tax revenues falling. Just because it is not yet showing up in the numbers does not mean it is not a problem. People are dumping land left and right. Tomorrow I am looking at land for 25k an acre. Just six months ago this guy was asking 55k. There are so many empty Resaca lots it boggles the mind. One development off of Minnesota has not sold one lot in a year. It is only going to get worse.

DO WE NEED A LOBBYIST?

I do not know - but I did like the way all of the discussion went on the subject. It was open and frank - people spoke their mind and the people were the better for it. I can say - Sorry Charlie Atkinson with the endless picking of his teeth with one hand, and rubbing of his nose with the other treated everyone with equal contempt - he just cannot help but interrupt everyone.

The Commission would serve its public interest well if it were to conduct itself more like during the discussion over lobbyists. It was professional and informative - You just need to tie the hillbilly boy’s hands down so he does not pick his teeth and rub his nose.

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