Voters Keep Asking: Where’s the BEEF?

Voters Keep Asking: Where’s the BEEF?
(Why Voters Should Continue To Ignore Empty Rhetoric)
By Susan M. Halpern
Former Addison Councilmember (1992-1999)

The fearmongering from the negative candidates continues, as they try to convince Addison residents that the sky is falling. Don’t fall for their empty rhetoric. Ignore it. The sky is not falling. Addison is doing fine. In fact, Addison is doing great, as it charts a positive course forward. Put the negativity where it belongs: in the rear-view mirror. Addison is moving on.

Their negative tactics are par for the course. We go through this every election season. The negatives and naysayers create a faux issue, they misrepresent and misstate the facts, they claim the sky is falling, they attack anyone who isn’t them, and then they claim that only they can solve the faux issue. When in TRUTH, there’s no issue at all.

You’ve probably noticed by now that the faux issue of the season is “taxes,” an apparent reference to property taxes. Predictably, the claim is that these taxes are “too high.” And, of course, the negative candidates are the only ones who can “fix” this “problem.” What is noticeably absent is any TRUTHFUL discussion of facts that would support the conclusion that any “problem” exists.

I’m left wondering: WHERE’S THE BEEF?

Let’s start with some TRUTH about Addison’s property taxes. First, more than 85% of Addison’s property tax revenue is paid by commercial properties. That means residents pay less than 15% of Addison’s total property taxes. Second, 18 of the 31 Dallas County municipalities have higher residential property tax rates than Addison. And, if you add homestead exemptions to the analysis, Addison’s position improves three more places, to where 21 of the 31 Dallas County municipalities have higher residential property taxes than Addison.

So, WHERE’S THE BEEF when the TRUTH is that Addison’s property taxes compare quite favorably to the other municipalities in Dallas County?

And the TRUTH is that other communities in Dallas County don’t look like Addison. They aren’t as well maintained, and they don’t have the amenities and superior services that are an express policy priority in Addison, around which Addison’s budget is constructed. All of which is what makes Addison unique. A small-town feel, centrally located in a thriving metropolitan area, with outstanding services. It is why many businesses and residents move here, and it’s why visitors come to Addison to patronize our businesses and restaurants.

Here’s the other thing. The negative public statements about taxes are demonstrably uninformed and that should concern voters. For example, they’ve claimed: “Addison can’t keep spending more money than it brings in.” This is patently false. Addison doesn’t engage in deficit spending, including because Addison’s Charter prohibits it. Anyone making this claim simply demonstrates that they haven’t read Addison’s Charter.

There’s also been fearmongering about debt. I’ve written lots about municipal debt, which is different from personal debt. Without it, current residents would pay for infrastructure enjoyed by future residents, and that’s poor policy. The TRUTH is that Addison is managing its debt portfolio very well. And the experts agree. Addison is one of only eleven cities in Texas to enjoy the highest ratings from both Standard and Poor’s (AAA) and Moody’s (Aaa). Misleading voters on this important issue is inexcusable.

And yet, the misrepresentations persist. One negative candidate actually claimed that Addison has been “going deeper and deeper into debt to pay for basic services,” a claim with absolutely no basis in fact. To no one’s surprise, then, this candidate provides no specifics. He can’t. Indeed, even the most cursory review of Addison’s budget disproves it.

So again, what we really learn from the negative candidates making such claims is that they haven’t done their homework. They attack Addison’s budget and its tax structure but do nothing to check the facts. They intentionally mislead Addison voters, refusing to acknowledge the TRUTH. It is disrespectful and entirely unacceptable.

Of course, the other side of this equation is expenses. It’s not rocket science and you don’t need a fancy degree to know that if you propose cutting revenue, you have to cut expenses. And for Addison, that means cutting services, programs, staff, or projects or something else. So, what are the negatives proposing to cut? Because this much is clear: claiming that they will maintain high levels of service while achieving lower taxes AND giving tax abatements, is mathematical fiction.

So, where are the details? WHERE’S THE BEEF in their position? Nowhere. It’s empty rhetoric. And in my view, Addison voters deserve more than fearmongering and empty rhetoric. Voters deserve substance, not unsupported and misleading claims like those being made by these negative candidates.

The TRUTH is that Addison is doing just fine. It doesn’t need saving and it sure doesn’t need candidates who mislead voters and hide their true intentions. Ignore fearmongering, ignore empty rhetoric. Let’s keep Addison moving forward.

Stay positive Addison. Stay on the plus side, just like Addison’s budgets.