Monthly Archives: April 2019

Early voting draws to a close

Tuesday was the last day to vote early by appearance. Polls closed at 5:00 PM Tuesday on the seventh day of voting at the Cailloux Theater. The last chance to cast a ballot will be this Saturday, May 4, from 7:00 AM to 7:00 PM at the same Cailloux Theater in Kerrville.

Why don’t we report early voting numbers?

Kerrville’s voter turnout in citywide elections is notoriously and embarrassingly low — historically speaking. Although turnout has been on the rise for the past couple of years, we believe that reporting voter turnout numbers may dissuade certain voters. During the election, we only wish to encourage voters and increase turnout. Reporting the numbers can wait until after election day! We will post the turnout numbers and do an analysis of voter demographics.

Election Day Activities

Voting begins at 7 AM on Saturday, May 4. Polls close at 7:00 PM. What happens then?

Approx. 7:00-8:00 PM – Election officials will release a tally of early voters and mail-in ballots. These early voting percentages tend to be similar to election day ratios. These early voting totals are released online at Kerr County Elections page.

Approx. 8:00-9:00 PM – Election officials will release the final totals and a winner will be announced. Mail-in ballots are accepted up until (and including) election day, so the final total may vary slightly, but typically, a winner can be announced with a great deal of certainty once these final tallies are released.

Later… Candidates traditionally release a statement to reporters and supporters at the various election day gatherings. Results will be posted here on Kerrville United!

Post-Election

After election day, final votes are tallied, including mail-in ballots. Typically a special city council meeting is called to canvas the results and swear in the new council members. This meeting date has not been officially posted as of this writing.

The new city council will hold its first regularly scheduled meeting on Tuesday, May 14.

Second round of campaign finance reports are released

Friday, April 26, was the deadline for the second campaign finance reports from city council candidates. This will be the last set of reports filed before the election, and second-to-last report overall. Why do these reports matter? Looking “behind the curtain” helps voters understand the costs involved in an election campaign, and the reports give insight into who funds the campaigns and where the money is spent.

The first reports were filed back on April 4 and covered the beginning of the campaigns in January through March 25. You’ll remember that it was that set of reports that led to the story about Baroody’s filing error which named the wrong campaign donor, leading to a story in the paper and a corrected filing. So these reports are important to study closely, if for no other reason than to keep the candidates honest.

These newest reports cover the period from March 26 through April 24. Here are some key takeaways…

Revenues

Campaign contributions for the period March 26 through April 24, 2019.

Candidate for Place 2 Kim Clarkson received the highest total contributions for the second straight reporting period, logging just over $5,700 in contributions. Place 1 candidate Gary Cochrane came in second with $5,360. Garcia and Baroody collected far fewer dollars this period with small numbers of donors.

Expenditures

Expenses by category for the period March 26 through April 24, 2019.

Campaign spending decreased this period and the expenses shifted largely to newspaper advertising, whereas during the first cycle, most of the money was spent on promotional items such as yard signs. Clarkson had the highest expenses followed by Cochrane, Garcia, and Baroody.

Remaining Cash

One of the items required on the report is the “total contributions maintained as of last day of reporting period” AKA, cash on hand. Here are the amounts reported:

CandidateCash Remaining
CochraneNot Reported*
Baroody$ 165.84
Clarkson$ 4,094.37
Garcia$ 2,741.63

NOTE: Although Cochrane did not report this number, it appears based on our estimate that he should have approximately $8,800 remaining.

These figures beg the question: What becomes of these leftover funds when the campaign is over? It’s important to note that this is not the last report. During the last days of the campaign and the weeks following, many more expenses could be incurred. For example, there are election night gatherings, last minute printings, and other expenses that are incurred in the final days. Following the campaign, some contractors send invoices for their work during the entire campaign period. So it’s not clear whether or not the candidates will have anything leftover after the last report has been filed.

That said, remaining balances can be saved and used for reelection campaigns, they can be donated to other campaigns, and there are a few more legal uses of the monies that remain after the bills have been paid.

Takeaways

  • Clarkson continues to lead the pack when it comes to contributions as well as expenses.
  • Baroody raised very little during this reporting period and had to dip into personal funds to make up the difference.
  • Cochrane has the largest sum remaining in the war chest, according to our estimate.
  • Garcia maintains a solid nest egg in the bank for the last few days of the campaign.
  • This reporting period saw the major expense category shift from promotional items to newspaper ads with 42% of all campaign expenses going to these advertisements (a total of over $7,000 during this month-long period).

References

Download each of the campaign finance reports here.

Plot twist: City receives debt transparency award from State Comptroller

As we near the end of a months-long election campaign that has been framed by a debate over debt and finances, the City of Kerrville reported today that the State Comptroller had issued the finance department a “Transparency Star” in the area of debt obligations. This program recognizes entities whose websites show visual and narrative detail on outstanding debt, tax-supported debt obligations, historical bond elections and more.

For the past two months, candidates for Place 1 and Place 2 respectively, George Baroody and Mario Garcia, have run advertisements and made statements that call into question the city’s transparency in the way the entity reports and discusses its debt obligations. For instance, in this advertisement run by Garcia on March 30, he takes issue with the way the city presented their debt obligations, and claimed that Baroody was the only person to point out this alleged flaw in reporting.

Garcia advertisement on March 30. See this article for the entire ad and discussion.

In each of their respective interviews with Kerrville United (found in the column to the right on this page) the candidates express their dismay at the way the city handles and presents information related to debt and funding methods to pay for the debt service. But the State Comptroller Glenn Hegar points out that:

By providing taxpayers with essential debt information in a variety of formats, the City of Kerrville has shown a true commitment to Texas taxpayers. This effort achieves the goals set by our Transparency Stars program. I am pleased to award the City of Kerrville a star for its accomplishments.

Texas Comptroller Glenn Hagar

The City of Kerrville Finance Department, headed by Amy Dozier, has received multiple transparency and budget awards in years past.


The City of Kerrville Finance Department includes, from left, Trina Rodriguez, Randi Van Winkle, Sureena Cripps, Chief Financial Officer Amy Dozier, Julie Smith, Nina Dunn.

Kerrville United interviews Mario Garcia, candidate for Place 2

Today Mario Garcia sat down with Aaron Yates of Kerrville United to discuss politics and issues pertaining to the 2019 city council election. The interview is presented in its entirety below.

Kerrville United has now broadcast interviews with all four city council candidates on the ballot in 2019. This is the first time that all declared candidates have participated with the interview opportunity, and we thank them for accepting our invitation.

Early voting continues this week, and Election Day is May 4.

Mayor Blackburn endorses Cochrane and Clarkson

In the “Mayor’s Corner” of today’s Hill Country Community Journal, Mayor Bill Blackburn announced his endorsement of candidates Gary Cochrane (Place 1) and Kim Clarkson (Place 2).

We need to move beyond constant conflict to a council that will be unified and willing to disagree honestly and honorably.

Bill Blackburn, HCCJ, April 24, 2019

Early voting continues this week at the Cailloux Theater, and Election Day is slated for Saturday, May 4.

Source:
http://www.hccommunityjournal.com/opinion/article_1e0b6a8c-660c-11e9-a2c8-9324296a7263.html

Kerrville United interviews George Baroody, candidate for Place 1

On Wednesday, Mr. George Baroody sat down for an interview with Kerrville United’s Aaron Yates. If you can hear rain and thunder during the video, that’s because we filmed during the big hail storm that passed through Kerrville on Wednesday afternoon. Please excuse the audio in those portions.

We bring you these interviews in their entirety, without any selective editing. These interviews offer each candidate a chance to speak without interruption or time limits about the issues that matter to the voters of Kerrville. These interviews are not designed to be a debate about the issues, rather just a forum to reach more voters in a forum where more folks can participate and learn.

Early voting is underway at the Cailloux Theater, and Election Day is May 4. Please exercise your right to vote!

Valuation changes within the TIRZ

EDITOR’S NOTE: All statistics discussed herein are based on the best currently available data received from KCAD on April 23, 2019. We know there are some gaps in this data and some potential for errors, but this analysis incorporates the data as we received it this week and represents the best data currently available. If we receive different information, we will update this article immediately.

Last year the City of Kerrville implemented a program called the TIRZ, which stands for Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. Under this program, “incremental” tax revenues are reinvested within the geographic zone that the city defined, which includes all of the downtown area. See our previously published video below to refresh yourself on what the TIRZ is and how it works.

Video published in September 2018.

Here is a map of the TIRZ area. A more detailed map is available here.

Does the TIRZ have anything to do with the rise in property valuations by KCAD?

There have been some theories posited online that suggest that the implementation of the TIRZ is somehow responsible for the rise in property values within that geographic zone. We heard from folks that identified specific examples of sharp rises in property values within the TIRZ. But these random examples don’t tell us much if we don’t have a full picture of the data. So, we went to KCAD, got the full data set for the entire county’s valuations going back to 2015, and we started crunching numbers.

Using GIS software, we identified all of the parcels within the TIRZ. There are approximately 600 parcels* in this geographic zone. Here are some takeaways for the TIRZ specifically:

  • The total market value within the TIRZ in 2019 is $133 million.
  • The total market value within the TIRZ in 2018 was $123.4 million (Please note that this value differs from the one the city presented in 2018 when discussing the TIRZ. We have reached out to the consultant to see why our numbers differ.)
  • That is an increase of approximately $9.63 million, or approximately 7.8%.
  • Compare that with the county-wide increase in total market value of approximately 7.3%.
  • The total value within the TIRZ rose just slightly more sharply than the county as a whole.
  • Given that the TIRZ makes up a significant portion of downtown commercial property, a slightly sharper rise is not unexpected.

(* Footnote: Parcels come and go year to year, so the number of parcels isn’t actually consistent from year to year. There are several reasons for this, but those reasons are outside the scope of this article.)

Now let’s go over some of the specific changes within the TIRZ:

  • There are approximately 589 parcels within the TIRZ that have appraisal values for 2019.
  • Of those, 165 parcels (28%) increased in value from 2018 to 2019.
  • Of those that increased, the average increase was approximately $81,000.
  • 395 TIRZ parcels (67%) saw no change in value from 2018.
  • 29 TIRZ parcels (5%) were decreased in value from 2018.

Here is a map showing the TIRZ parcels. Gray had no change, green decreased in value, and orange increased in value.

Map showing the valuation changes from 2018-2019. Parcels colored gray had no change. Parcels colored green saw a decrease in valuation. Properties in orange were increased in value.

What about the City of Kerrville as a whole?

Here are a few statistics about the city valuations as a whole (inclusive of the TIRZ area):

  • There are approximately 11,000 parcels within the City Limits (as per the KCAD assignment of CKV taxing entity)
  • The 2019 total market value for CKV parcels is $2,239,352,154
  • The 2018 total market value for CKV parcels was $2,041,671,250
  • The one-year increase was approximately $198 million (9.7%)
  • Compare this figure with the county-wide increase of approximately 7.3%.
  • 314 city parcels decreased in value since last year (2.8%)
  • 3,867 city parcels did not change since last year (35%)
  • 6,810 city parcels increased in value since last year (62%)

Notably, property within the TIRZ decreased LESS sharply than the city as a whole. The TIRZ increased approximately 7.8% while the city as a whole increased approximately 9.7%.

Also, the percentage of properties within that TIRZ that saw an increase is lower than the percentage of properties citywide that saw an increase.

Takeaways

While valuations of properties within the TIRZ did rise sharply from 2018-2019, they actually increased less sharply than the city as a whole. Properties within the TIRZ were LESS LIKELY to see an increase than properties in the city as a whole.

Again, we are studying this with the best available data. KCAD and the various taxing entities will receive certified copies of appraisals in the coming weeks, so the exact values may change. We will update our website with new information as it becomes available.

KCAD market values increased 7.3% this year

FOLLOWING UP ON LAST WEEK’S ARTICLE REGARDING REAL PROPERTY VALUATIONS FROM KCAD…

On Tuesday, Kerrville United received a large data set from the Kerr Central Appraisal District (KCAD). We are still examining this data, but here are some initial takeaways…

Aggregate market values increased sharply this year.

KCAD appraises properties in “parcels.” In Kerr County, we currently have about 40,000 parcels of land that the appraisal district tracks and evaluates. However, that doesn’t mean that we have 40,000 individual property owners. Sometimes a single piece of property can be divided up into several parcels. This happens with large tracts of land, but also sometimes with smaller acreage if the property sits across an “abstract” or “patent” survey line. But to understand the data, we have to think in terms of parcels, and not individual property owners.

In 2018, there were approximately 39,818 parcels on the rolls, with a total market value of $7.4 billion. In 2019, there were approximately 40,048 parcels on the rolls, with a total market value of $7.94 billion. That’s a increase in valuation of approximately $541 million in one year, or approximately 7.3% total increase in value county-wide.

  • The average increase per parcel was approximately $15,000.
  • There are 148 parcels that increased in valuation by over 1,000% from 2018-2019, accounting for $30.8 million of the increase (about 6% of the entire countywide increase). Many of these properties are owned by nonprofit entities or government entities that are exempt from property taxes, and some of these increases were from “0” or “$10”, so they are not representative of incremental increases we normally see from year to year.
  • There are 1,603 parcels that at least doubled (or more) in value from 2018-2019. That’s approximately 4% of the parcels in Kerr County. Again, many of these are owned by tax-exempt entities, so the increase does not change their tax liabilities at all.
  • The properties that doubled in value (or more) account for $255 million of the $541 million in total increases (47%).
  • Approximately 24,578 parcels either did not change, or saw a decrease in their market value. This means that approximately 61% of all parcels in Kerr County that did not increase, or actually decreased.
  • Those parcels that decreased actually lowered the total 2019 market value by approximately $56 million.

Compare these numbers to the 2017-2018 increases… In that year, we saw an increase of approximately $114 million, approximately 1.6% increase countywide. The average increase between those two years was about $2,850 per parcel.

Here is a chart breaking down the changes year-to-year.

More information will be posted as we continue our analysis.

Olympic Drive developments dominate Tuesday night’s city council agenda

The Kerrville City Council will convene on Tuesday night for the last regular meeting before Election Day 2019. Several items on the agenda pertain to the planned development along Loop 534 and the extension of Olympic Drive to facilitate the construction of the new Peterson Middle School campus planned by Kerrville Independent School District.

A portion of 35 acres will be considered for annexation into the city limits. The property’s proposed zoning is “PI” or Public & Institutional District.

The council will also consider a funding agreement with the EIC. Under the proposed agreement, KISD would pay for approximately 50% of the costs of extending Olympic Drive to Loop 534, and the district would also pay for approximately 75-80% of the costs of the utility extensions. The EIC portion would be approximately $1.05 million. The EIC approved this agreement on April 15. The funds would come from 4B sales tax revenue, which is mandated by state law to be used for economic development projects such as this.

An interlocal agreement between KISD and the City will also be considered to help facilitate the project. In November, KISD voters approved a bond issue of roughly $89 million for the construction of Peterson Middle School as well as for improvements to other campuses within the district. That bond election passed with a 65%-35% margin.

Engineers estimate the total cost of the Olympic Drive extension to be $2 million and the sanitary sewer extension to be $234,000.

The full agenda and packet for Tuesday night’s meeting can be downloaded here:
http://kerrvilletx.granicus.com/DocumentViewer.php?file=kerrvilletx_ecc479cb6769675dbf1c8e46d23df238.pdf&view=1

Chamber forum videos are available for viewing

Last Monday, the Kerrville Area Chamber of Commerce hosted a candidate forum for all four of our city council candidates. The videos have been posted by the Chamber, and are available to view below. Please note that they segmented the video into four parts, and each part is presented in order below.