When I was growing up in Terrell, my mother would make a homemade chocolate pie. With a family of seven, usually there was more demand than supply. If you were the unfortunate soul to be the last to get to the pie, you were out of luck. Mom remedied this by cutting the pie in eighths.
The budget of the city of Terrell is similar to that chocolate pie; something might be worthy, but late to the table. So it is with a quality of life strategy in Terrell. Given competition among North Texas cities, we need park and downtown improvements to attract families and high wage employers who search for more from their communities. However, our existing division of the pie leaves out that strategy.
In 2017, the City conducted a variety of Park, Downtown and Comprehensive Planning activities. Through fifty public meetings and workshops, 73% of citizens agreed with the statement, “Quality of life projects and beautification are important in terms of providing the greatest return on investment for Terrell.” Attendees thought current residents should be able to get out and enjoy family-friendly park and downtown improvements close to home. Proposition A is the instrument to do just that.
Proposition A will dedicate a small share of existing sales tax revenue exclusively to economic development for downtown Terrell, enhancements to our park system and city-wide connectivity to bring neighborhoods together. State Law refers to this as a Type B dedicated sales tax. We need one. Type B seed money, together with developer partnerships and matching grants, will allow the City to begin this work immediately.
Type B is not a tax increase, but simply a different way to slice the existing sales tax pie. Under State Law, voters may reallocate one-eighth of one percent of the current sales tax funding. Our tax structure dates to 1990, when voters elected to put half the City “local option” pie into an industrial development sales tax called Type A. Today, that generates $2.6 million (4 pie pieces) for industrial development projects every year. Proposition A simply moves $650,000 (1 pie piece) to parks and downtown capital improvements each year. Our Type A account, managed through the Terrell Economic Development Corporation, will remain healthy and able to continue its work. This Type B strategy will prevent a city property tax increase that is commonly associated with issuing bonds.
I have listened to our citizens and the message is clear; parks and downtown need action. Over the years there has been much conversation and little action to get Terrell into a position for solid middle-income growth. Proposition A is your opportunity to cut the pie to benefit current residents today by funding park and downtown projects that are long overdue.