“Candace, do they even care how property taxes affect small businesses? Property taxes are by far my biggest expense. I pay over $100,000 a year in property taxes. I would love to hire another $45,000 employee, but I am holding off until I know what our property taxes and other taxes will do.”

How many of you have ever been to a Dallas County Commissioner’s Court hearing? I have lived in Dallas for 36 years, and Tuesday morning was the first time I went. Glad I did. A) It’s a pretty nice court and B) our elected officials gave themselves a 6 percent pay raise, (county employees to get 3 percent).

It was very interesting.

It made me dislike even more the system by which we fund our counties and cities, schools and Parkland Hospital, through property taxes on our real estate. I came away convinced that every hardworking Dallas county employee thinks if you own property you are a rich land baron and can well afford to pay taxes and more taxes because it just means fewer dinners at Fearings. I’m sure not ALL feel that way, but that seemed to be what was in the air Tuesday morning at 411 Elm.

First of all, we noticed there were a lot of constables and Dallas County Sheriff’s deputies in the room from the get-go. I figured they were there to push for their raises. Can’t say I really blame them. I mean, there is extra money bubbling in the system from our wild real estate ride. They work hard, felt like they deserved a raise, “have been with us during the lean times,” and someone said they hadn’t had a raise since 2008 when everyone held off on raises due to the recession.

Fact check: County employees have received raises each of the last 4 years. According to the Dallas Morning News: (more…)

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins

That headline is not entirely accurate now, because, after Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins told me this morning that no one has signed up to speak on lowering the tax rate, I signed up. But others should, too. As I told him, most taxpayers will likely be at work — in their offices, in the courtroom, in the hospital — making money to pay those higher taxes.

Why is it so important to attend tomorrow’s meeting? As we told you last week, property taxes are way up and have hit everyone, particularly moderate income level wage earners, particularly hard this year. Home values may have increased, but that doesn’t help you unless you are selling and moving to a less pricey area. State law prohibits the annual rise in taxable property values from exceeding 10 percent for homeowners who claim homestead exemptions, that is, who live in their homes. If you have investment properties, you will pay through the nose and probably are. And you, like me, will likely raise the rent to cover.

Which means: this is the bottom rung in making housing ever more untouchable, unaffordable.

That is what Judge Jenkins told me this morning as we talked about tomorrow’s meeting: (more…)

John Wiley Price's Home at 406 E. 5th Street in North Oak Cliff

John Wiley Price’s Home in North Oak Cliff

Get out the smelling salts, you surely are going to faint: Dallas County Commissioners, SOME Dallas County Commissioners, are asking for an 8% pay raise, netting them $157,000 a year (up from $145,474 currently) because the county is flush with money from the property taxes we are all paying through the nose for, thanks to our beefed up values. They are also asking for pay raises for county judges, sheriffs, tax assessor, treasurer, constables, district clerks, county clerks and justices of the peace.

I am just amazed. And guess who says he needs it the most because he works so hard, seven days a week?

Commissioner John Wiley Price, the one Commissioner accused of taking bribes from county contractors, who is facing a federal corruption trial in February, and whose legal defense counsel the state is paying for (he must contribute $80,000) because he “couldn’t afford it.” The DCAD market value on Price’s North Oak Cliff home is $169, 420. He pays $4645.22 in total taxes, $428.80 to Dallas County.

(Price has denied the corruption charges. The FBI surprise raided his home in June of 2011.)

“I work seven days a week,” Price said. “I’ll put my work ethic up against any of my colleagues, here or anywhere else.”

This is just so typical, the way government largess works: they get more money, and whose pockets get lined first?

How about returning it to the taxpayer?

Or what about so many other things that could be done with that money besides fattening one’s own bank account? How selfish can these people be when there are thousands of homeless people in Dallas, including 3600 children?

Who else can have a job where they can vote themselves a raise and stick their hand in the cookie jar anytime they fancy?

Answer: a Dallas County Commissioner.

Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins has a brain, and a heart: (more…)

It’s been awhile since I’ve been in Elba and Domingo Garcia’s beautiful 7,000 square foot plus Kessler Springs home — you would steal for the master, and the patio/pool is to-die-for. But I really fell in love with his basement Man Cave where I have no doubt the Garcias will be watching the game this Sunday. Unfortunately, my Man Cave chez Garcia photos were too dark, but this photo of his desk chair (in the Man Study) more than makes up for it. Every Man Cave ought to have a gold-leafed throne, right?