My name is Donald E. Page, Jr. and I am a member of the Gonzales Taxpayers Association (GTA). I want to start by saying that I love Gonzales! It is rich in history and beauty. I live just outside of the city limits of Gonzales, so I don’t have a vote in this election, its results will have a direct impact on me. This is why I decided to join and support the GTA.
The GTA was formed by a group of concerned citizens and business owners after the city council adopted a tax rate of $.2750/$100 in the 2017-18 budget. The city manager and council’s reasoning for the increase was vague and lacked a clear strategy as to how the funds would be utilized. The group started a petition to reverse the adopted rate. They got over 650 signatures and it looked like the town would get its vote. The mayor and city council went into executive session to discuss the rollback petition. They came out of executive session and informed the citizens that they “misapplied” certain expenses and after correcting their errors the citizen’s petition was “void.” What they failed to reveal however is once a tax rate is adopted, there is no way to go back and correct it. The mayor knowingly ignored the law, whether or not it was in “good faith.”
We fast forward into the 2018-19 tax year. The city adjusted the finances and submit a proposed tax rate increase of $.3050 and a rollback rate of over $0.46/$100 therefore misrepresenting to the taxpayers. I personally attended both of the tax hearings and spoke in public comments regarding the miscalculation but was ignored. A few members of the GTA stood up and filed a lawsuit against the city council in the district court. The judge mediated the two parties to come to an agreement where in part the council agreed to a corrected rollback rate of $0.2248 and suggested that the council find a tax rate that was somewhere between that number and the previous tax year’s rate of $0.2750. They later adopted a tax rate of $0.3050/$100, an ADDITIONAL $0.03 over the previous year (4-1). The GTA was forced to get signatures for a petition a second time.
Since the election has been slated, there have been people in the community attempting to vilify the members of our group. In fact, the mayor stated in public, that the GTA is “intentionally out to harm this town.” I find that statement appalling, because I am not trying to harm this town at all. I am just committed that the officials who represent it, act in accordance to the law and follow the process.
The GTA is not a “small faction of the community out to harm progress.” We are just average people here in town that love this community and want to preserve the laws that govern it. We are aware that there are needs to our city’s infostructure that require funding. This rollback election is about our officials following process and truly representing the town and its citizens. Thank you again for allowing me to write this letter.
Donald E. Page Jr.
Proud member of the Gonzales Taxpayers Association