By JOHN KANELIS / firstname.lastname@example.org
My friends up yonder in Amarillo, Texas, are going to vote on something called Prop A.
It’s a measure that would spend $275 million on extensive renovation/expansion/remodeling of the city’s 52-year-old Civic Center.
Were I still living in Amarillo I would be inclined to vote “for” the measure. Even though it would mean a significant boost to property taxes for many residents; I would be exempt because I am an old guy, so my taxes are frozen.
A friend sent me a message today that tells me the municipal property tax rate would jump 38.9 percent, adding 15.1 cents per $100 to property valuation. The city already boasts one of the lowest municipal rates in Texas, about 38 cents per $100.
So now the question becomes: What kind of return on investment does that tax increase bring? Proponents say it would bring convention business by the millions of dollars to the city; it would bring top-tier entertainment that passes Amarillo by because the Civic Center entertainment venue is so, um, lacking.
Can that return be measured the way we measure our property tax bills every year? No, but it’s tangible nonetheless.
Here’s the more interesting takeaway from this election. Amarillo is staging this election in the middle of a highly contentious presidential campaign. When the residents of that city vote on Nov. 3 whether to approve Prop A, they also will be voting for president. Turnout will be huge, man! The city has more than 100,000 registered voters; if 60 percent of them turn out to vote, that would give Prop A’s fate — up or down — the kind of mandate that is lacking in most municipal bond issue elections.
I am going to speak out once more in favor of Prop A. The city needs to improve its entertainment/business infrastructure if it hopes to keep pace with the growth that is occurring. It doesn’t come free.