Thursday, May 26, 2005

Zombie Legislation

Yesterday afternoon Wentworth resurrected the taxing district by tacking the legislation onto a bill in the Senate. This bill, CSHB 2120 (which has 13 other amendments) relates to the "efficient administration of county government" and its House sponsor is Rep. Ray Allen (Republican-Grand Prairie). The bill now goes back to the House for concurrence with the Senate amendments or refusal to concur and a request for a conference committee, probably today at some point.

The problem with the special taxing district is that it may not be what people want. Environmentalists and aquifer protection groups are simply wanting an amendment to the legislation requesting a vote to honor the 100,000 people that signed petitions the last time this fight was going on.

This debate has found itself in the mayoral race. In the Express-News two days ago both candidates spoke out:

Risking the perception that he is carrying water for the many developers who support his campaign, Hardberger said he strongly opposed proposed legislation and the efforts of environmentalists to require a countywide vote to create such a district for the project.

Although he is opposed to a taxing district, he said a vote would make the city look ambivalent on this and future economic development projects.

Castro, meanwhile, said he favored a public vote on the proposed taxing district, even though the language was included in the PGA Tour deal that he voted to support as a city councilman.

"I think that if (the developers) want an extra 29 years with a special taxing district, there needs to be a public vote," said Castro, who opposed the first two versions of a PGA golf course on the recharge zone.

Richard Alles, activist of the year in San Antonio, refuted Hardbergers claim stating,
In reality, there is no "deal" or contract giving Lumbermen's a taxing district. Under the City's contract with the developer, Lumbermen's has only the right to seek a special taxing district from Bexar County. There is no requirement that Bexar County must agree to establish the district. Consequently, Bexar County voters entitled to vote on the taxing district, and such a vote would in no way violate the contract with the City.
I agree with Alles and those asking for a vote. If there is a vote and the PGA wins, then they build the course and nobody can blame the city. No vote? Then there is just going to be lawsuits, more legislation challenges, appeals to city council, etc, etc. Let's prevent all the hassle and have a vote here in San Antonio.


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