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August 10, 2011

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The formula that population growth = new fire station isn't really what is used, but it is instructive. The need for fire stations is dicated by what kind of insurance rating a community wants. The higher a community's rating the lower everybody's property insurance rates.

The Texas Department of Insurance utilizes the Public Protection Classification system to determine a community's rating.

I don't know what Midland's rating is, but I would suspect a study has shown we need to build a new fire station to maintain our rating.

http://www.tdi.state.tx.us/fire/fmppcfaq.html#a250095

So now it's going to take a new fire station to get a better insurance rating?

That's new.

The City may not be trying to improve the insurance rating, they may be trying to maintain the one we have.

To say the City is trying to "get a better insurance rating" would require you to know what the current rating is, and wether or not we have the potential for a downgrade.

I don't know the answer to either one of those questions, and according to the FAQ I linked, you can't find that online, you have to call somebody to find out.

wow It take a whole 25 seconds to download the budget. Is this all you have to grip about? Get a life

Sorry for the sarcasm in my earlier comment, Ospurt. On rereading yours I see the hedging.

Kudos for admitting you don't know.

One more thing Ospurt. A year ago you were over here beating the drum for higher taxes. And now you seem focused on slicing the pie.

Maybe you really are just a concerned anonymous citizen, but you sound suspiciously like someone angling to get his own fingers in that pie.

In the budget battle last year I wasn't advocating higher taxes, I was pointing out that the 2010-11 budget that was proposed was in line with the oft quoted guidelines of the Taxpayer's Bill of Rights, which says government should be limited to increases in the their budgets tied to population growth and inflation. I didn't like the increase, but it wasn't torches and pitchforks at City Hall time for me.

In the end, the City of Midland did what many are advocating the nation do today. They increased taxes a little, they made cuts, and the deferred capital projects. I know many wanted more cuts instead of a revenue increase, but I think the City truly ran up against mandatory spending on unfunded mandates from the State and Feds and they weren't prepared to go all the way to the bone with cuts.

As for this year, the Fire Station aside, there is a significant increase in the City budget compared to last year, but most of that is being covered by recovering sales tax receipts. If you have read some of the few postings I have done since the sales tax came back, each time I asked when the Council was going to dedicate some of those funds to lower the property tax rate below the effective rate PRIOR to the last tax increase.

I criticized the Council for approving items they called "Luxuries that had to be cut" in last years budget as soon as sales tax revenue came back. I thought they should have given back to the taxpayers first, then move on to the "luxuries" if the sales tax receipts kept growing. Personally, I think the City this year should have set property taxes in the following fashion:

Take the anticipated property tax receipts from 2010-2011 before the tax increase, add population growth and inflation factors, plus the revenue that would be generated at that rate from *new* property (not increased valuations), determine that dollar figure and set the tax rate accordingly.

As for the fire station, it is a purely informational item to consider. It is why I started blogging all those years ago. I like to know what goes into the decision making process of Cities and was frustrated at the level of misinformation and innuendo that surrounds some issues.

I do work in an industry that does work for municipalities, but I've never done work for the City of Midland or Odessa and even if I did, architectural structures like fire stations are outside my realm. When it comes to opinions on my hometown, I have no conflict of interest.

I've just been involved in enough municipal planning to know parts of the decision making process the general public may not be aware of.

Fair enough, Ospurt.

About that insurance rating, Ospurt --

About six weeks ago the fire chief said that newer equipment and more training is all it would take to raise Midland's insurance rating.

Since raising the insurance rating was one of the reasons cited by the city for hiring the chief, we can probably assume there will be a news release if/when the new rating is secured.

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