May 02, 2008
More on the HCDE and Wolfe

The School Zone blog has a nice account of the marathon Harris County Department of Education meeting at which HCDE Trustee/bad boy Michael Wolfe was censured and asked to resign (the official letter of censure can be found here). This may be my favorite bit:

Two speakers, both Republican activists, speak in favor of Wolfe. Things get testy. Dorothy Olmos, who used to work under Wolfe in the Republican Party, describes the board's movement against Wolfe as a "personal vendetta." She continues: "Our tax dollars are being spent by wasting time on something that is very immature and irrational to the constituents."

I refer you to the censure document, which contains these particulars:

WHEREAS Mr. Michael Wolfe has failed to notify the Department or other board members of his whereabouts for over three months. Board agenda and other official Department information mailed to the address he identified have been returned to the Department unread. Phone calls, emails, and other attempts to communicate with him have been met with non-response; and,

WHEREAS Mr. Michael Wolfe while publicly criticizing the Board and the Department for lack of fiscal responsibility has failed to participate responsibly in HCDE fiscal matters such as the budget development process, the tax rate setting and the associated audit activities. Of the critical, three-month series of meetings leading up to these vital fiscal decisions, Mr. Wolfe attended only the 35 minute wrap-up budget committee meeting; and


WHEREAS Mr. Michael Wolfe had not attended a board meeting since November 2007 (absent without prior notification from meetings on December 18, 2007; January 22, 2008; February 26, 2008); and

WHEREAS Mr. Michael Wolfe, as a board elected representative, has not attended a meeting of the Harris County Department of Education's Public Facilities Corporation Board since September 2007 (absent without prior notification from meetings in August 2007, December 2007, February 2008); and


WHEREAS Mr. Wolfe threatened Board Members during an Executive Session and when asked to confirm the threat, he did not deny that it was a threat against the Board members;

There's immaturity and irrationality aplenty here, but I don't think it's the Board that's responsible for it.

School Zone also answers a question that I was unable to determine by Googling around: What is the HCDE tax rate, which Michael Wolfe wants to set to zero?

I just got some numbers from Paul Bettencourt, the Harris County tax assessor-collector who had a run-in with Wolfe earlier this year. The department's tax rate is $0.005853, or less than half a penny per $100 dollars of valuation.

The bottom line: The owner of an average home in Harris County pays $6.62 a year in taxes to the department (with exemptions taken into account). In all, the department gets about $15 million a year in local tax dollars, Bettencourt said. Over seven years, he said, the tax bill has gone up 46 percent. For other entities, the average is about 50 percent.

That's approximately the amount of a combo meal at your favorite fast food restaurant; super-sizing may or may not be within that budget, depending on which sandwich you choose. Whoop de doo.

Posted by Charles Kuffner on May 02, 2008 to Local politics
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