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Candidate says he will focus on cuts, not more taxes

By BY DAVID HAGAN
May 8, 2012 at 12:08 a.m.

David Hagan

Being a good city council member is about listening - listening to you and your concerns and then standing up for those concerns and defending your values. During my two terms as a member of the Victoria City Council, I have listened to and then taken a stand for the interests of the average taxpayer in our city. I have insisted on accountability and transparency when city tax dollars are being spent and I have spoken out loudly when the interests of taxpayers are ignored. I have challenged the status quo, and I have said NO when your tax dollars are being wasted or abused. Standing up for and defending the interests of taxpayers doesn't always make me the most popular council member with some of my colleagues or the news media, but I wasn't elected to represent the special interests. I am proud of my work on the council and I am humbled by the outpouring of support I have received from the people of Victoria for my efforts. That is why I am seeking re-election. My opponent and I served on the Victoria City Council together during my first term. He was voted out of office by those in his district. There is a reason he was not re-elected. It is because his record is one of voting to approve taxing and spending on unnecessary projects. While on council, he voted to increase the amount of tax revenue the city collected from $18.35 million in 2008 to $19.3 million in 2009, an increase of 5.167 percent. Yet, the majority of my colleagues proudly proclaimed that they had passed a "tax-relief" measure for Victorians. I voted against this "tax-relief" measure because it provided no tax relief and instead, forced the average Victoria home and business owner to pay higher city property tax bills than they did the year before. In the current national and global economic environment we should not be spending more of the public money or increasing tax revenues. When the city council does vote to do so, we certainly should not insult the intelligence of tax payers by calling it tax relief. While the council did, by a vote of 6-1, lower the tax rate from 67.5 to 65 cents per 100 dollars of property valuation, because of higher property appraisals, the actual effective tax rate increased by 2.54 percent. I called on my colleagues on council to join me in rolling back the effective tax rate to 63.9 cents per $100 of valuation in order to attain a net "zero percent" increase in property taxes. If my plan had passed, the average Victoria taxpayer would have had no increase in the amount of taxes they paid in 2009. Instead my plan died for lack of a second with my opponent turning a deaf ear to my suggestion that we scrub the budget to cut costs, and instead they increased tax revenues. My opponent advertises that he will keep your tax rate low. His record shows otherwise. He will spin you while he continues the vicious cycle of taxing and spending. I believe this must be stopped. We need to refocus our efforts on the essential services that we have been elected to address. How about focusing our financial resources where they belong on the roads, police, fire and EMS? Instead of building more city parks, let's work on taking care of the ones we have. We have so many things going for us as a community. Caterpillar coming to our community is a blessing. Nevertheless we are not exempt from the economic realities of the outside world. Food and gas prices are affecting all of us. Salaries for many remain flat. We can be optimistic about our future as Victorians and still realize that wise financial stewardship is good for the city just like it is for each of us. I believe transparency in government goes hand and glove with wise financial stewardship. During my two terms in council I have insisted on fewer executive sessions. When I began serving as a council member, we had executive sessions after every council meeting. I began to publicly and privately dispute the necessity of these numerous executive sessions. It was my belief that much of what was being discussed behind closed doors needed to occur in the light of day. Today I am proud to say that the number of executive sessions council conducts has been dramatically reduced.

If re-elected I will continue to stress the necessity of maximum transparency. Serving District Four on council means continuing to listen to you and carry your concerns to the city council. Representing you and your family is a high honor, and I humbly ask for the opportunity to continue to do so.

David Hagan is the incumbent for the City Council District 4 seat. Contact him with questions or comments at 361-570-8355 or email at dhagan@victoriatx.org.

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