Saturday, September 19, 2015

Questionable Behavior Continues at Commerce City Hall

For those of you who did not attend the council meeting or read the Commerce Journal article then let me inform you on the latest twist at City Hall.

Now I did not attend the meeting but did watch the posted YouTube video. Click here to watch it for yourself.  (I would wager to say that following this blog the City will discontinue posting the meeting on YouTube within several months.)

So what's going on? The council failed to pass the 2015-16 City Budget. There were only 4 members in attendance and two voted for approving the budget and two voted against.

That's not the questionable behavior. 

What's questionable is the time of the next meeting.

During the discussion following the vote, several different times were suggested to hold a meeting to vote on the budget. 

It was suggested to meet on Saturday but Council Member Hill could not attend, so that time was ruled out.  It was suggested that since there was already a called special meeting Monday at 5, that the budget could be added to that meeting.  The Mayor said he could not make a meeting at 5.  It was then suggested that the meeting start at 4, but council member Martin could not make it because of her job, so that time was ruled out.  

So when is the meeting going to be? At 39:21 in the video the Mayor said and thus it became part of the official record of the City that the meeting to act upon the budget would be at 5 o'clock on Monday. 

When the Commerce Journal came out on Thursday it was printed: "Due to the failure of the budget to pass at Tuesday’s meeting, a special meeting will be held on Sept. 21 at 5 p.m."

If it was announced and then published in the paper for all to read that the meeting would be at 5, then why are they holding the meeting at noon on Monday? The image below was taken at City Hall the evening of the 18th:

Announce a meeting date and time at the council meeting, have an article in the paper but then post another time?  Dig a little deeper.

Let's back up and see how the vote came out.

Council member Hill and the Mayor voted to approve the budget.  Council members Martin and Davis voted against it.

So the Mayor and Hill are for the budget and can make a noon meeting, but Council member Martin who voted against the budget ,appears to have a scheduling conflict and most likely will not be able to make the noon meeting.

How do you guarantee something you want will pass? Have a meeting when your opponent(s) can't attend.

Also keep the citizens confused and uninformed so there will be zero input from them.  If you go to the City's website there is no posting of the meeting. Check it out here.

I guess here is how it works at City Hall:
1) have a meeting and vote where those who are against it will be unable to attend
2) keep citizen confused and in the dark about your meetings

Yes. Business as usual.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

One Step Forward, Two Steps...

I have always said watch what politicians DO, not what they SAY.

Commerce city leaders cry out saying we need more university faculty and staff living in Commerce. The City spent $5000 to make Commerce a certified retirement community saying it will help attract retirees. 

So why did the city council pass an ordinance that would make any home buyer wait up to 15 business day before they could occupy the house?

Believe it or not, that is exactly what they did when they passed an ordinance on January 20th.

Now, I am not going to argue whether inspections are good or bad. My opinion is that the ordinance, as written, is bad for Commerce and the Commerce housing market.

Would you be happy to have paid half a month's mortgage on a home that you couldn't move into because you had to wait on the city to inspect the home before the water can be turned on?

And folks, ordinances are black and white. There is no gray. It is not left up to interpretation.  What applies to one, applies to all.  What you say, is what you mean. What you pass should be enforced as written or it needs to be changed.

When you use words in ordinances like "any", "each", "requires", "after", "and" & "before" there are specific definitions to those terms.

I would say break out your Webster's Dictionary but who has one of them anymore? I googled the definitions and welcome you to do the same.

Any means: every; all
Each means: used to refer to every one
Requires means: cause to be necessary.
 means: during the period of time following (an event).
And means: used to connect two clauses, the second of which results from the first.
Before means: during the period of time preceding (a particular event, date, or time).
Connected means: join together so as to provide access

So let's now look at a few key points in the ordinance that was PASSED as it affects the purchasers of a home (this also affects those who would lease a home or duplex). I have underlined and made bold parts for emphasis.

The City of Commerce recognizes the need for implementation of a policy that requires the issuance of a Certificate of Occupancy and performance of a Life, Health and Safety Inspection before water utility services can be connected or reconnected to any residential structure in the city in an effort to monitor ownership and standards of all residential structures, thereby reducing the number of demolitions of dilapidated and/or abandoned residential structures within the city. 

Section 3. Application and Issuance of Certificate of Occupancy.

(b) Each new owner of a residential structure shall make application for occupancy with the Building Inspector by submitting to the City a Residential Occupancy Application, within ten (10) business days after the date of acquiring ownership.

(f) The Building Inspector shall within fifteen (15) business days after receipt of the Residential Occupancy Application, either issue a Certificate of Occupancy or notify the owner that the application does not comply with the requirements of this ordinance.

So following (after) every (each & any) ownership change, the city has made it necessary (required) that the new owner must fill out the Residential Occupancy Application, which will then give the city up to 15 business days to issue a Certificate of Occupancy, then perform a Life, Health and Safety Inspection preceding (before) providing access (connected) to water. BRILLIANT!

Basically, if you buy a home, plan to wait up to 15 business days before the city will turn the water on. (This applies to folks who want to lease a home or duplex as well!)

And here is the kicker for me (since I sell real estate) and all real estate professionals that want to list and sell homes in Commerce, we have an ethical obligation to inform all potential buyers of any rules, regulations and ordinances that a city has that could potentially affect their home purchase decision.  

Thanks City Council, now every buyer, including those who are taking jobs at the University or retired couples that you say you so desperately want to live in Commerce, must be informed prior to making an offer on a home that they may have to possibly wait up to 15 business days before they can have water service and move in.


Council members and citizens who cheered the passage of this ordinance, you have actually made other cities like Rockwall more attractive and appealing to home buyers.  No one likes the government meddling in their business and in particular a home purchase. 

Of course no one in Commerce, ever seems to mention the fact that property taxes on a $200,000 house in Commerce are $6440 per year while in Rockwall the taxes on a $200,000 house are $4660 per year.  It doesn't take a Ph.D. to figure out saving almost $1800 per year and keeping local government out of your personal life is a good thing and possibly a wiser choice when deciding where to live, open a business, work and gain an education.