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08/2014 UPDATE: Sugar Land Moves Forward with Recommending Maximum Tax Increase While Ethics Commission Matter is Still Pending

Email from Diana Miller 08/20/2014

Dear Mayor and Council Members,

This letter is to express my dismay that the proposed City Budget contains the maximum allowed tax increase for the Parks Bond Projects as referenced in the City of Sugar Land Budget Proposal as follows:

Bond Election Projects

In November 2013, Sugar Land voters authorized $31.5 million in general obligation bonds to be issued for parkland improvements at Brazos River Park, an adjacent festival site, and nearly ten miles of hike and bike trails and bridges throughout the City. The FY15 budget includes $13.55 million for the first year of funding for the voter authorized projects, including work on the next phase of Brazos River Park, grading and site work on the Festival Site, and the Imperial and First Colony trails. The remaining projects have been programmed over the course of the five-year CIP, with all projects anticipated to be underway by FY19. Implementation of the first year of projects is anticipated to result in a one-cent increase to the tax rate in 2014, as discussed with the City Council at the March budget planning retreat.

Today, I have posted a video portion from the community meeting that was held at the First Colony Conference Center. The video is posted on the Sustainable Sugar Land Facebook page and will be available on our web site as well. In the video, council members ensure the public, "this is the last resort of raising your taxes...it doesn't have to be" Harish Jajoo. "And if only one's approved, it's not going to be 5 cents" Amy Mitchell. Considering that $18 million of the $50 million bond did not pass, and considering our substantial property value increases, why would the City of Sugar Land even begin to consider implementing the maximum tax increase. "It doesn't have to be". Even Fort Bend County is passing on a tax reduction in light of increased property values.

In addition, considering that this bond election continues to be a pending item before the Texas Ethics Commission, a most conservative approach should certainly be considered by our Mayor and Council. I am opposed to the tax increase as presented. You may refresh your comments to the public using the link below.

Diana Miller

DID SUGAR LAND VIOLATE ELECTION LAWS

IN THE NOVEMBER 5, 2013 BOND?

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Over $36,000 in Political Contributions to the Proponent PAC in this election
 
Concerned Citizens were still able to defeat 1 of 3 Bond Propositions
 
Looks like the PAC idea was formed on City time with Jim Brown, Director Parks & Recreation at the helm.
 
City of Sugar Land letterhead, Meeting Five Summary, Director of Parks and Recreation, Jim Brown provided an overview. "how the committee would group the projects to ensure the most successful bond package with the most items passed". "What is a good way to get the word out?...PAC (political action committee), school kids, National Night Out, realtors." Was this the true charge of the bond committee and the City; to get a well funded PAC? Of 94 bond committee member applications, 48 serve on other City boards and 11 serve on Parks boards. Tim Stubenrouch, Treasurer for the Citizens for Sugar Land PAC was a co-chair in this meeting.
The Open Records request for this information was not filled until election day. It was requested on October 14, 2013

    

click here to download Meeting Summary

click here to download PAC Campaign Report

click here to download PAC report 2

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Diana Miller, Community Advocate

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