MIDLAND, Texas — Question: How do you propose to give Midlanders a true break on their property taxes?
District 3 answers
Chandler: Unfortunately for Texans under the property tax code there is two different elements so we have the property tax rate and we have the appraisal of the homes. In Midland we face the situation where our homes have been undervalued for years and so the appraisal district has been required by the state comptrollers office to bump those appraisals up to where they actually meet what the appraisals should be what our homes are selling for. So the only way in that situaton to provide a break for property taxes would be to affect the property taxrate and that would be up to the taxing entities through budgeting and careful planning. That's the way the city would be able to keep the porperty tax rate at the effective rate or at the affective level.
Ladd: My plan is pretty straightforward. Here's what I'm proposing as a whole to lower our property taxes. It's going to start with the fact that Midland's landlocked. We're surrounded on all sides by our own success on all sides by our own success with one exception: east. So that's why I'm saying 'go east young man'. What I am proposing is going to be that we work together with the county government, the city government and general developers here in Midland, Texas to come up with a master plan development. That's going to require the city and the county to build roads eastward and also put water and sewer lines eastward. That agreement between us and genereal contractors creating the master plan is going to see that-the master plan will essentially having us putting aside land for schools, it will have us putting aside land for parks and business development and eventually within 3 years connecting it to Loop 250
Poole: Well we have approximately $300 million budget and due to the rise in property valuation our taxpayers have been burdened by this, and I would have hatef to see the burden that would have come upon them if that 7 1/2 percent increase had been passed. That being said I believe every solution begins with an idea but that idea doesn't always have to revert back to property taxes. I think it's imperative that we begin to look at other revenue streams other than property taxes to fund city projects. One of the things we would look at doing is lobbying the state legislature to increase the hotel-motel tax by 1%. That 1% increase would then be designated to address infrastructure needs within a two-mile radius of visitor venues like the sports complex and the convention center. Cities like Corpus Christi, Hosuton, El Paso have all successfully lobbied the state to change that law.
Baldridge: I don't particularly know how a master plan is going to reduce the burden of appraisals and everything in town. Frankly you can't sell some of these houses in here Midland for the same price that you're getting here that you would in say Abilene. Unfortunately like Jack said we are a victim of our own success. The only thing we can do as one of the five taxing entities is city council can reduce or just not increase its tax rate. Frankly without other teeth or anything that's the only way I can see city council affecting that.
Question: Downtown development is a public-private partnership funded through the city of Midland, the Downtown Midland management district, and the Midland Development Corporation. How would you rate its effectiveness and what would you do to support it?
Corrales: I think we need to devote a lot more of the tax dollars that come from the property downtown into reinvestment downtown. We have a bunch of buildings that can be repurposed and the Midland Development Corp is used to promote things in Midland, particulary we have downtntown. We have a convention center now that is going to draw more people to it. I think that was a good investment in bringing other businesses to Midland that want to promote things there at the convention center and that can draw more activity, wheth-er that is putting more housing in the downtown area, whether that is bringing more business to the downtown area and looking at the logistics of it. if we are going to have more traffic, how can we increase, for example parking? If anyone has been downtown and you've tried to eat at Luigi's, parking is as bad as it was when I left New York City. It's really tough to find a place to walk to. But I think we can use MDC and all these other business to improve that.
Crisp: I have a few issues with the downtown revitalization. I think using the hotel-motel fund for the convention center is a great idea but I'm not necessarily on board with $44 million in debt to do it. When we go into debt we are paying interest on a property that is going to deppreciate and I don't think that's necessarily the best use of our funds. I'm hopeful the convention center will be successful and put money back into the city. My concern, like Mr. Corrales said, is parking. It's already difficult enough to park and without building a specific parking structure for the convention center, I'm concerned with what that might look like. There's also issues with the potential downtown park. I know they're adding a splash pad and unfortunately we just had a bunch of children get sick at our already existing splash pad, so I think that perhaps putting city money into downtown revitalization when the private industry could do that instead is not the best use of our resources.
Blong: I believe that we've done a good job of incentivizing businesses to this point to come to downtown Midland and we do have the great anchor of the convention center. But I do believe that the money that has been put in by the city and the Midland Development Corporation to this point has advocated for downtown revitalization, and we don't need to continue to see this as a project that the city or the Midland Development Corporation is advocating for with dollars. But we can continue-my husband and I office downtown actually with our business Octane Energy, and we've recently expanded our office for more space and we've had trouble with some of the issues dealing with the city to get some of those things done. So we need to fast track construction and remodeling. And the parking is an issue, it is definitelty an issue and so I think that we need to give opportunities for some of the companies who are ready to put money into these things. We need to fastrack those companies; we need to allow private business to do what private business does best and expand into the downtown area and provide that.