Daily Progress, Jacksonville, TX

November 1, 2011

The inconvenient truth - part 2

Rick Moscicki
Jacksonville Daily Progress

Lake Jacksonville — These are some additional clarifications from the Oct. 16 headline “Tensions rise over dam” relative to the city’s failure to repair Buckner Dam.

It has been nine years since the 2002 TCEQ report called for repairs, yet no planning or funding for the preservation of the dam has taken place.  City manager Raissi says the city brings in $50,000 from lake residents, but spends “at least” $80,000 at the lake “every year.”  He then makes statements divisively pitting lake residents against city residents by implying that city taxpayers are making up the cost difference.  Since when is spending on the lake and dam the financial responsibility of lake residents ONLY?

Thousands of non-lake residents enjoy the lake’s beauty and recreation every year.  How much revenue do those visitors generate?  How much revenue is generated from water the city sells from the lake?  How about sales tax revenue from purchases by lake residents?  How about all the tax revenue from those inflated property values at the lake?

Do the math.  The following figures are based on Cherokee County Appraisal District information from June 2011, and tax rates for the county (0.57%), city (0.6251%), and school (1.32%).  Total appraised value for about 602 properties at the lake is approximately $113 million, including $26 million inside the city limits.  Property taxes from lake residents can be calculated at over $2 million annually.  Water sales, sales tax receipts, and lake lot lease fees increase this figure considerably.  While the lion’s share of property tax money goes to JISD, school expenditures then cycle throughout the Jacksonville economy several times over.

If someone has better numbers, please show us.  And stop diminishing lake residents by suggesting they only bring in $50,000 to the city.   

By the way, if the city spends $80,000 at the lake every year, it would be educational to know where the money went, especially how much was spent maintaining Buckner Dam.

The city was able to put together $675,000 to update a city park (how much revenue does the park bring in?).  Yet they cannot seem to find a fraction of that to take care of the dam that has created the single most valuable public asset in the area, the greatest recreational asset in the area, the source of 40% of the area water supply, and the area’s best economic engine.  In spite of the lake’s obvious value, there is no visible effort to try to assure that this asset will still be here in the future.

The attitude of “If the dam fails, we’ll just build another one” is simply moronic.  If the city cannot find a modest amount of funds to maintain the dam, where o where will they find the funds to rebuild it?    

How surprised would we be to wake up one day and find the lake gone?  Think it can’t happen?  Just ask the residents of New Orleans how they feel about the failure of their city to maintain those levees.

Rick Moscicki

Lake Jacksonville