Dallas County Commissioner Mike Cantrell, District 2
September 13, 2010
OPEN LETTER TO DALLAS COUNTY COMMISSIONER MIKE CANTRELL, DISTRICT 2
Dear Mr. Cantrell,
We are in receipt of your reply regarding your intention to raise Dallas County property taxes and frankly, were unimpressed. In the spirit of being constructive, allow us to outline our areas of disagreement.
You campaigned and were elected as a Republican. That once meant a fiscal conservative who balances budgets by spending reductions and the size and scope of government, not raising taxes. Democrats increase spending and raise taxes. If you are now in favor of raising taxes, perhaps you should switch parties.
We voted for you in the belief we were hiring a fiscal conservative. We work long and hard hours to earn the money to pay our taxes. You state that you have taken a very conservative approach to taxes for the 16 years you have been on the Commissioners Court. So why have you decided to cast aside principle now in a deep recession when your constituents are struggling to survive financially?
You state repeatedly in your reply that you and the other Dallas County Commissioners have “cut and cut” and “diligently scrubbed our budget over the years—department by department…” Yet according to the Dallas Morning News, when County Commissioners asked department heads to trim 10 percent from their budgets and most failed to meet the objective, you decided to punish taxpayers instead of hold county department heads accountable. That is unacceptable.
Just because you were barraged with rants from bureaucrats, public interest groups, and public employees soliciting more of other people’s money, doesn’t mean you have to comply with their demands. We couldn’t help but notice your colleague Kenneth Mayfield heard the same pleas and stood fast on conservative principles. Amazing. And duly noted.
We know many of your constituents who have suffered job losses and pay cuts of more than 10 percent during this recession and have had health insurance costs rise far above the 5 percent increase county employees were asked to pay. These constituents also have DEFINED CONTRIBUTION retirement plans rather than DEFINED BENEFIT plans. And this year, there may be no employer-matching contributions in these plans. We strongly suggest you revisit employee health insurance contribution levels and explore defined contribution plans for county employees. If it’s good enough for the private sector, then it’s good enough for the public sector.
You correctly point out that our home values have fallen. Any idea why? It’s because the economy is in the tank. Everyone is cutting back dramatically, except apparently Dallas County. PLEASE DO NOT insult us by telling us our taxes will be the same (they will in fact increase) and expect us to be contented in an environment of huge losses in home values and reduced income.
You should have informed District Attorney Craig Watkins his budget plan was Dead on Arrival, and if he didn’t come up with a sufficient plan to cut 10 percent from his budget, you would do it for him. That’s leadership.
Finally, as we understand it, the vote on the budget has not yet occurred, although your response indicates it may be too late. If the vote has not occurred, you can still summon the courage to stand on Republican principles.
You may disagree with our reasoning, but now you know where we stand. Apparently, that stance varies greatly from yours. This issue will be a significant factor in our voting decisions as we approach the November 2nd election.