But, there were other worthy goals. One was voter apathy. Scotland just voted to stay with the British Commonwealth. The interesting thing about that particular election was the 85.5% voter turnout. Of course, it was an important election, but the turnout was inspirational. If memory serves me correctly, the last local Rowlett election had a turnout rate of 3.4%. That was deplorable. I felt using the blog to try to get local citizens interested in local issues was a worthy cause. Then, I thought the blog could serve other causes.
I didn't know anything about fire trucks or water meters. However, I knew a little bit about real estate development. Well, actually a lot. Real estate is the main revenue engine for any municipality. It is the foundation upon which the tax base is built. Tax base is the framework of the tax rate, which of course determines how much cash you pay in real estate taxes each year.
If one understands the fundamentals of real estate development, the financial commitments and risks, and the escalation of real estate values from good planning, you have the knowledge to judge whether your leadership is properly addressing their pledge of financial stewardship. Leadership would include both staff and elected officials. Of course, all of staff works for the city manager. Some "officialdom" is appointed by council, such as P&Z Commission.
There are several steps to this process of learning and grading of leadership performance. First, the burden is on me. I have to write something that is of sufficient interest to keep a reader. If I can't do that, mission fails. Then, the reader citizen must feel strongly enough about what I have written to check out the authenticity of the information and decide if the info I send out is correct......or not. Then, the reader must turn their attention to our "leadership" or leadership hopefuls, and judge whether they seem to be "informed" on real estate development matters. Finally, it is time to vote for your leadership. If you don't vote, all the above is for naught. Certainly, all the above is a time consuming process for all of us. So, my endeavor starts with a blog and ends with your vote. Any break in the chain is a failure.
So, how could I do this? Well, first of all, one must understand that all business accounting systems, and that includes cities, consist of two basic accounts. One is EXPENSE and the other is REVENUE All other accounts are sub accounts. Then, you have to understand that if there are 37,000 voters in Rowlett, there will be 37,000 different opinions on what to spend money on and what to not spend money on. To help, you need an image. I have one. I can conjure up in my mind a cartoon. Just about everyone knows what a T Chart is. It is just a big T on a page and on one side you list debits and on the other side you list credits. Pretty simple, huh? When I think of a Rowlett T Chart, I envision a T Chart with cartoon characters on one side in fist fights, sticking fingers in each other's eyes, trying to wrestle each other to the ground, kicking, shouting and screaming........hundreds, thousands of people. These people are all discussing taxes and expenses. On the other side of the T Chart, there is a single person sitting at a desk, playing Solitaire. Occasionally, this person will look up and think about tax base. This is our economic development department. This person is thinking about revenue. A quick glance at my cartoon suggests that the revenue side of the Rowlett T Chart could use some undivided attention.
That whole cartoon image could be changed by the citizens of Rowlett. It just takes a little thought. Most real estate thinking is common sense. The math never gets more complicated than simple arithmetic. It's percentages, logic, some research, clear thinking, and an unwavering understanding that everyone is not a real estate expert, although nearly everyone thinks they are. That's okay. You don't have to be an expert to reasonbly judge preformance, however one should get outside advice if if in a position of authority, expected to vote for the common good, and don't know what you're doing. That step introduces the risks associated with "officials" that do not know how to get expert advise. If ever at that point, it is probably a good idea to sell your house and move somewhere else.
I have been writing on these pages since February. Some posts I thought were pretty good and others didn't seem so good. However, I have never offered an opinion on anything in these pages without additional information supporting that opinion. Broad based information is an invaluable aid. There is a lot of information in Steve Brown's columns in the Dallas Morning News. For a non developer, Steve writes a good column. Texas A&M puts out very good information. You can subscribe the their real estate newx magazine. You can Goggle some real estate new sites. You can bet Dallas and Texas will be discussed.......positively.
This blog is about tax base, not fire trucks and water meters. Rowlett is in an unbelievable position to become an outstanding village around the lake. Have any of you been to Granbury lately? Twenty years ago, it was a sleepy little town that had a lake in it. Today, it is a delightful place to visit and live. They have built a public beach and the waterside is developed with very nice projects. The city went to work promoting Granbury as a great place to retire. It worked. We can do that, but our big opportunity resides in the acquisition of Robertson Park. Unless we have a complete moron at the wheel, when properly developed it should put Rowlett on anybody's A list as a place to visit. My biggest fear is that Rowlett will miss enormous opportunities because of our "officialdom." This has a direct bearing on the value of your home and the amount of taxes you pay every year. A very delightful lifestyle is within your grasp. But, you have to go get it. It will not come to you as a present with a bow. We have made plenty of those mistakes. We must be proactive, not reactive.
You can help. Elections are about a year and a half away. We need leadership that shows some indication of having some real estate development savvy. We need something more than bobble heads and "me toos." I would like to see a developer, real estate lender, or appraiser, get into the action.......at least someone who has seen a development analysis spread sheet once in their life. I never saw even one absorption rate analysis during our consulting days. That's pretty standard stuff that can tell you what's good. But......ya gotta know how to put one together.