Letter to the Editor | "What is Fair, Equitable, and Relevant?" by Tommy Moore, ACND Chairman

Posted Oct 17, 2014
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To the citizens of Aransas County,

I was surprised at the article in the October 11th Rockport Pilot regarding the lease between Fulton and the Navigation District. First I was surprised that Mayor Jimmy Kendrick had presented a proposal to council based on a passing conversation he and I had in the Fulton Harbor parking lot. While the $3500/ month was mentioned in the conversation, there was in no way any formal proposal on the table as represented. What was voted on?

Since 2000 the Navigation District has spent just under $200,000 on the bulkheads stabilizing the area north of Fulton Harbor and is currently looking at another $20-30,000 to repair washouts within the next year. Replacement cost today for the 900 ft of bulkhead would be around $1 million. The Navigation District manages and maintains the public waterfront facilities for the citizens of Aransas County and those waterfront facilities are why our visitors come to Aransas County. Maintaining waterfront facilities is an expensive proposition as any waterfront property owner knows.

I was also surprised at the various aldermen's comments regarding being "bullied" or being treated in some sort of unfair manner as well as their lack of understanding of how the Distrct operates under the Texas Water Code.

The County leases 2400 sq ft of land for the Aquarium at $1.50/sq ft. per year and the City of Rockport leases 400 sq ft of office space in the Bay Education Center at over $6/ sq.ft. per year. The Fulton lease covers bout 65,340 sq ft which at the same rate as the County would be $8,167 per month.

The Rockport Beach negotiations were mentioned as well. If any party was bullied in those negotiations it was certainly the District. History has shown that 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 while at the same time spending over $150,000 on deferred maintenance.

By law, the ACND is supposed to get reasonable market rate for it's properties. Also, the tax rate for Districts such as ours is capped at $.10/100,000 valuation limiting the amount the district can raise from ad valorum taxes. The concept is that a District is started with tax money and begins to develop it's assets and then, if possible, it becomes self sufficient. The current tax rate for the District is right at $.05 including the repayment of the Rockport Harbor bonds. When I was elected to the Commission six years ago, tax revenue was about half of revenues at about $1 million dollars, today tax revenues remain the same and non tax revenues are about $1.5 million.

While over the years some commissioners did not necessarily work towards self sufficiency, over the last 10 years or so the Commission has been steadily focused toward that goal and the steady rise in non-tax revenues and solid reserves is proof.

It's the same old story, everyone screams that the District should get more money for their property until their lease is on the table and then they cite all of the old leases and straw dog arguments as a reason their rate should be lower.

As a Fulton resident and business owner with an understanding of the whole situation it disturbs me that this type of political grandstanding and disingenuous representation of the facts is how Mayor Jimmy Kendrick has chosen to negotiate this lease.

The District will continue to be up front and steadfast in doing the right thing for the taxpayers. We welcome any questions or input from the public on this or any other Navigation District matters. I can be reached on my cell phone at 361-463-6388 or email at tmoore@rockportadventures.com. This is obviously the only way our community will get both side of the issues.

Tommy Moore

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