Category Archives: Politics & Elections

Coupland Election 2014 – The Incumbents


Especially in Coupland!

Three Alderman positions are up for consideration in November. Interestingly, this is a majority of what is formally known as the Board of Aldermen, which — together with the Mayor — form what we know as the Coupland City Council. So, if you like the course of the city government so far in its young life, this is your chance to keep it moving in that direction. If you’re not happy with its performance to date, this is your chance to make a change. Regardless of where you stand on the issues faced by Coupland as a community, get informed and get involved. The city council needs your input and your participation to have a fair chance at representing all of Coupland.

The Aldermen whose terms expire in November responded to a questionnaire sent by The Coupland Times. Here are the questions:

1. Do you intend to run for a second term as an Alderman? If not, please share your reason for not running.

2. What would you say was your most important contribution(s) to the City in your first term?

3. If you intend to stand for re-election, what issue(s) do you propose to focus upon in your second term? 

Here are their responses, in the order received: Continue reading

City Election: Filing Period Begins Today!

Three terms on Coupland’s Board of Aldermen (a.k.a. City Council) expire in November. Those positions are currently held by Barbara Piper, Susan Schmidt, and Eldridge Tidwell. There has been no formal announcement by these current Aldermen regarding their intention to file for re-election.

According to the State of Texas Local Government Code for the Aldermanic form of government in a Type B General-law Municipality, if you want to serve as an alderman, you “must be a qualified voter in the municipality and must have resided within the municipal limits for at least the six months preceding election day.”

If you are interested in serving Coupland as an Alderman, you have from today though August 18 to file your application to appear on the Ballot. The 2014 General Election will be on November 4.

For more information, the official notice is posted at the Coupland Fire Station and on the City’s website: Election Notice.

Results of the Coupland Water Supply Board Election

The ballots were finally counted and the membership of the Coupland Water Supply Corporation, which actually manages waste water for the community, has changed. The new board will consist of Martin Samuelson, Wells Mason, Scott Ging, Karen Marosko, and Tim Worthy.

The new kid on the block is Tim Worthy, who has served on the board in the past. According to his press secretary (that would be his wife, Barbara), Worthy wants to thank everyone that voted for him and wants the public to know that he will always work for the community’s best interest.

According to Mason, Martin Samuelson is the new President of the board, replacing the outgoing Jim Huntington in that capacity. Mason is the Vice-President and Marosko remains as secretary.

The board will no doubt face many challenges in the coming years, not the least of which will be the need to expand the capacity of the water treatment plant. There is room for only a few more connections and Coupland is likely to continue slowly growing.

It may not look like much but we would miss it if it were gone.

It may not look like much but we would miss it if it were gone.

Statement from the Board of the Coupland Water Supply Corporation

Submitted by Jim Huntington:

The current Coupland Water Supply Corp (CWSC) board has seen our financial reserve completely used up due to unexpected expenses, either from Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) mandates or from unpreventable maintenance and repair issues. Our actions as a board have been based on what we deemed to be the most responsible thing to do, to maintain the system and these actions have been unanimous.

To successfully operate, we need a certain amount of money coming in every month or we will be in deficit. While all of us on the current board would like nothing better than to have lower rates, it is our analysis and unanimous opinion that lowering rates at this time would definitely not be prudent but actually would be counterproductive, which would force higher rates in the long run because we would have to borrow money to operate and pay interest on that money, instead of compiling a reserve on which we draw interest.

In 2012, the current CWSC board voted unanimously to increase rates by increasing the rate per 1000 gallons of water usage to $7.00. In the past, when we had to increase revenue, we raised the flat rate which was the same amount levied on everyone. This time when rate increase was necessary, we decided to raise rates on usage, so that the more you use, the more you pay, thereby protecting modest users from subsidizing greater users.

The current board also voted unanimously to set the Capacity Reservation fee at $5000, which is much lower than other nearby municipalities and much lower than the cost of a septic system. That money is set aside for improvements and eventually, at some point in the future, to plan for an expansion to the processing plant as we move close to the capacity of what the present plant can handle.

The current board CWSC has worked well and harmoniously for several years, reaching unanimous consensus on all issues which have confronted us. Our primary focus has been on what is good for the total CWSC system putting aside any personal agendas.

Voting is open until Nov. 30th. If you lost or misplaced ballot, you can get a replacement from either Karen Marosko or Jim Huntington.


The Voting Machines Have Spoken

The two sales tax issues on the ballot for the City of Coupland passed easily with 81% of 37 Coupland voters approving a 1% sales tax in city limits and 84% approving a ¼% sales tax, earmarked for road maintenance.

It's going to be a while before the city coffer looks like this.

It’s going to be a while before the city coffer looks like this.


The Williamson County bond proposals also passed with 64% of about 29,000 Williamson County voters approving the sale of road bonds and 55% approving the sale of park bonds. Keep in mind that the county isn’t obligated to spend the money on the proposed projects. See the related story: Funding Essential Government Functions With Bonds

You can get info on all the elections results, including the state constitutional amendments, here: Election Results



Funding Essential Government Functions with Bonds? – It’s Your Choice on November 5

I received a flyer in the mail from “Citizens for Better Williamson County Transportation/2013.” If you live in Williamson County, you probably received one also. What grabbed my attention were the big, bold letters: WILL NOT RAISE OUR TAXES!

It’s time for a reality check. The development and maintenance of roads and parks costs money. I think we can all agree on that. Public roads and public parks are most likely going to be paid for with the public’s money. I think we can all agree on that, too. Now where’s that money going to come from? Probably from your taxes, agreed? So how can they say that these projects will not raise our taxes?

Before we go further, let’s look at bonds. A bond is essentially a promissory note that governments issue to buyers in exchange for cash up front . Bonds are sold in auctions. The buyer can expect repayment plus tax free interest according to the terms of the bond agreement. Sweet deal for them, especially considering they get the money for almost nothing from the Federal Reserve (which is not federal at all but a consortium of privately-owned banks). Where does the money come from to repay those bonds plus interest? You got it! The payments come from your taxes. Learn more here: Bonds

It is misleading to say that our taxes will not be raised. The flyer says, “by selling the road bonds incrementally over the next two years and leveraging the debt we have paid off, there will be no increase in the tax rate.”

What they mean by “leveraging the debt we have paid off” is that we will add new debt as we pay off old debt. So, instead of your taxes going down, they remain the same. It’s like constantly adding new charges to a credit card at the same time as you pay it down. You will never get it paid off and way too much of your payment is going to interest. The only people that benefit from interest payments are the big banks (and corporations owned or controlled by big banks) that buy and sell municipal bonds. If the county’s old debt was paid off, then the money that had been going to that debt service could either be returned back to the citizens in the form of reduced taxes (don’t hold your breath) or it could be used to begin building up a fund to pay for future projects. Those projects could be paid for with money that we are not having to pay interest upon. Now there’s a radical concept.

We have a debt-based economy. It doesn’t have to be that way but that, like the Federal Reserve, is a much larger topic. Let’s just stick to the immediate issue. I have a few concerns about the current campaign to put us further into debt to build or improve county infrastructure.

First, the flyer includes the Williamson County logo, such as you may have seen on official press releases from the county, which I have posted on this site. However, the flyer is not from the county but from an advocacy group. Who are these “citizens?” Take a look at who has donated money to the campaign and you will get the idea. Take a look at this Campaign Finance Report. It looks to me as though many of the principal contributors are the kinds of people and companies who might benefit from large construction projects. Many are not even residents of Williamson County. Maybe they really are well-meaning citizens — I’m not saying they aren’t — but it doesn’t smell right to me.

Second, I found this little gem on the Wilco website: 2013 Road and Park Bond Election

“The estimated costs, proposed locations, proposed projects and proposed descriptions listed represent possible uses of such bond proceeds. The actual projects constructed with bond proceeds are subject to change based on future economic, market and other conditions.”

So you think you’re voting for one thing but the county can spend it on something else if it so chooses. I don’t know about you but if I am committing myself to future debt for specific purposes, I want to know it is going to those purposes.

Third, the county is sitting on enough money to significantly reduce the county debit. Prepare for an education about local government finances.

Most people only see the “Popular Annual Financial Report” (PAFR) issued by various governments. The Williamson County PAFR is short (24 pages) and is designed to highlight all the positive news without divulging the details — wherein the Devil is said to reside.

The real information is in the “Comprehensive Annual Financial Report” (CAFR), which is 194 pages and contains a full disclosure of  government finances. I’m not an accountant but I can read and I know a little bit about how local government functions so I scanned through it. You can too.

Click on the links to see the PAFR and the CAFR for Williamson County for the fiscal year (FY) that ended on September 30, 2012 (the most recent year that has been audited). Here are a few interesting tidbits:

  • The recommended general fund balance is at least 30% of budgeted expenditures but at the end of FY 2012, the county had $73.8 million or 63% of budgeted expenditures for that year, so it’s not hurting for operating cash.
  • The county has investments (stocks, bonds, etc) that are not part of the general fund but which are “unassigned,” meaning they aren’t obligated to any specific purpose. At the end of FY 2012, the county’s total unassigned fund balance was just over $365 million.
  • The county’s long term liabilities (debt) total almost $855 million. That’s awful close to a BILLION dollars of debt already.
  • The county is paying interest on that debt in amounts ranging from 3% to 5.75%. That means the county is paying something north of about $36 million each year in interest before even touching the debt principal.


So what’s the bottom line (pun intended)? I look around and see county roads in need of maintenance. $36 million dollars would fill a lot of potholes but that money belongs to the big banks. It’s time for government to live like the rest of us. Start paying down the debt, don’t add new debt, maintain and expand roads and parks as best as you can but throw off the yoke of debt servitude as quickly as possible. I’m sure there is a bit of fat that can be trimmed here and there to make county government more lean.

0417_richtaxes_630x420It’s time to wean the government from living on debt. It will cry. That’s part of the weaning process. We may not be able to do anything about Washington D.C.’s addiction to debt (without staging massive acts of civil disobedience, that is) but we can do something about what goes on in our local governments. On November 5, send a clear message: NO MORE DEBT!