Letter to the Editor | "Correcting the Record" by CJ Wax, Mayor, City of Rockport

Received Oct 23, Posted Oct 24, 2014, 2:31pm
Dear Editor

I’ve read with interest the coverage The Rockport Pilot and specifically Harley Hoot has provided on the ongoing issues regarding the renewal negotiations for the Paws & Taws lease with the Aransas County Navigation District. I take no position on the lease itself and feel confident that the officials of the Town of Fulton and the Navigation District will engage in open and public negotiations concerning this important issue, which affects all of us in the community.

With that said, I do wish to correct the record on some things quoted in the article that, I believe, may mislead the public as it relates to the City of Rockport. Mr. Moore’s letter states: “…the District did the right thing for both Aransas County and Rockport tax payers as well as our visitors by taking a facility that was poorly maintained and losing $150,000 per year to being $54,000 in the black…” 

The City operated the Rockport Beach Park as a service to the community for 25 years -- as it has done with all other municipal parks. In fact, the City continues to pay the debt service on both the Saltwater Pavilion and the Beachfront Pavilion, which this year amounts to $43,502. I would suggest that if that amount were the responsibility of the District instead of the City, “$54,000 in the black…” would be considerably less.

If there are questions about the finances of the Beach Park while the City operated it, I extend to any citizen or any member of the District’s Commission to visit with Patty Howard, the City’s Chief Financial Officer, to review the audited books as far back in history as they wish to examine. This offer was extended to the District’s CPA through Mr. Moore in 2011. This offer was not accepted by the District, in fact, Mr. Moore responded that “…it would not be useful.” I am also unaware of any comment from any guest or citizen that complained the Park was “poorly maintained.” On the contrary, all of the comments the City received when it operated the Beach Park were consistently numerous and very positive.

The Bay Education Center, another non-profit entity that welcomes guests to our city as well as offering educational options to our schools and those in nearby communities, was jointly funded by the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Association, the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, and the City of Rockport. The District contributed the land but the City shoulders the burden of operating expenses.  

Lastly, the Navigation District approached the City at our annual Hotel Occupancy Tax Meeting in June and presented the City with a request for $135,000. All of the recipients of HOT funds are local non-profit organizations that implement special events that bring hotel/motel guests into the area. The City can not use Hotel Occupancy Taxes for other City bills; we collect the monies and then distribute them to those who meet the requirements of the law’s specific permissions. At that meeting in June, I asked the District’s representatives for documentation demonstrating that 80% of the guests on the Beach Park were from outside of the County as they had indicated in their application. Such a request for documentation is asked of every HOT applicant due to the limitations in the law. That question has yet to be answered. 

In addition, I asked for an example in the State of Texas of any Navigation District currently receiving Hotel Occupancy Tax monies from any municipality. That question remains unanswered, as well.

The City of Rockport is proud of its performance in supporting the broad interests of our citizens. We remain accountable and available to our Citizens and welcome them to any of our meetings or to examine any of our records. Thank you for the opportunity to clarify some issues that may have confused our constituents. 



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