McKinney: What Have We Gotten For Our Quarter-Billion Dollars?

The City of McKinney is not having such a good week in the economic development department. First Lincoln Properties pulls out of the celebrated Gateway Project. This is particularly disappointing since the hotel component didn’t happen without lawsuits and  $millions spent before this more recent phase moved into the forefront. So in early 2014 we think something is finally going to happen on the remainder of the Gateway property. And by early 2016 it is stalled again as the developers walk away.

Now comes Barclays Bank. In September 2014, we hear that 500 jobs are coming with a $4 million investment on the City’s part. And now in April 2016, Barclays is leaving before fulfilling their mission. The City says none of the $4 million was spent because Barclays had not met their threshold for jobs. Not to Barclays, maybe, but not a penny paid to the property developer?

Are we just that unfortunate here in McKinney? Yes, things happen. And there is much not within our control. I suppose.

However, this opens a door. I’ve walked through it before when I have questioned how the money is being spent for both the McKinney Economic Development Corporation (MEDC) as well as the McKinney Community Development Corporation (MCDC). The City Council did give a nod to a gigantic step when they indicated it would be a good thing to move the MEDC/MCDC Board meetings to the Council Chambers and video record those meetings. I greatly appreciate that move when it happens.

I have harped on this subject before, but I think it is imperative that the citizens of McKinney really get the full picture of where the MEDC/MCDC (4A & 4B) money has been used over the years. Between the two Money Boards, $250,955,609 of sales tax money has been collected for MEDC and MCDC operations and projects. For all the scrutiny the Council and public would give on the General Fund budget, is the same attention being paid to the Money Boards?

In just the past 12 months, $21,718,989 has been collected for the two funds. You may recall that I urged the MISD to show us the cost of the football stadium in terms of the Tax Rate Equivalent (TRE). So what is the TRE on the sales taxes going into the Money Boards? That’s very easy to determine. The taxable value is currently $15,200,173,814. If the City did not have sales taxes at all, and the same amount of money was spent in the City budget, it would take a property TRE of 28.58 cents to generate that much in funds.

Since the General Fund gets 1-penny while the other 1 penny is split evenly between the MEDC and MCDC, then we can see that these two Money Boards are getting the TRE of 14.29 cents.  That’s a lot of money!

So, what are we getting for that money? Let’s just focus on the MEDC right now or about 7.145 cents and $123 million since it started being a revenue source in 1996. What is the return on our investment?

Just how closely would you personally monitor every dollar if it was your $123 million? That’s the deal. It is our money. We elected the City Council, and they have appointed a City Manager and Boards to watch over it like it was their own checkbook.

In fact, when you go over the 75/SRT flyover and look down at Gateway, if you can see it, just exactly how much of OUR tax money has gone into that project? And after you head west on SRT and glance over at the Craig Ranch property you can partially see, how much money has been given to that developer? And what have we received in return?

In addition to cash, how much has been given by the City putting in infrastructure the benefited Craig Ranch? Or how many dollars have been waived that would have been paid in other parts of the City by developers for roadway and utility impact fees?

There is an exact amount. I have sent an Open Records Request asking for documents that will let me compile that number for my readers. It think it is going to be a shocking number. Later, I will hope to answer another question I am curious to learn more about. How many people were on the MEDC Board (and City Council) that were working for Craig Ranch, directly or indirectly, when decisions were made to give money to that project as well as to the Gateway Project?

How is it that this information isn’t more readily available on the City’s Web site in the holy name of Transparency? Maybe we can all learn soon. LFM

BTW, if you like to study charts, and I hope a few of you do, you will notice that the Rolling 12 Month totals spiked for a period started in September 2011 due to favorable audit adjustments that benefited the City to the tune of $5,345,794. State law protects the specifics from being revealed, but it is an anomaly that skews the data. Otherwise, you can actually see the exact months the City has headed into a recessionary period and recovered. Many cities are peaking in their sales tax collections at the current time.



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