New Braunfels Herald Zeitung (Newspaper) - May 11, 1997, New Braunfels, Texas
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“The only side that journalists should take Is the side of
Razia Bhatti Pakistani journalist, 1994
I T O R I
Labor of love
Celebration of motherhood should be continuous
If you’re reading this, then you have a mother. None of us would be here without one.
Mothers are those wonderful women that carried us for nine months, gave birth to us and then spent the better part of the next two decades raising and loving us as only they could.
Mothers made sure we were fed and clothed.
They took us to school and helped with our homework. They baked cookies for our bake sales and brought sodas to our sporting events. They consoled us when we cried and celebrated our victories as no one else could.
They have the most difficult job in the world, aftU yet there is no monetary compensation for what they do. Theirs is a labor of love.
So take the time this Mother’s Day to do something for that special woman in your life, lf your not close enough for a visit, call. And if she is no longer with you, offer a prayer and remember the times the two of you cherished together.
The calendar designates one day each year as Mother’s Day, but maybe we should consider making it more of a daily celebration.
(Today s editorial was written by Herald-Zeitung Managing Editor Micah Boyd.)
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Nothing wrong with current NBU payment rate
Editor and Publisher, Ext. 201........................................Doug Toney
Managing Editor, Ext 220...............................................Micah Boyd
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Recent issues of the Herald-Zeitung have advised that New Braunfels officials desire mote financial transfer from die New Braunfels Utility System. This request is similar to those made every two or three years by the city government and I believe it is time to give the utility rate payers a bit more information on this matter.
According to the laws of the state, under which municipal utilities operate, they may transfer funds to the general funds of the municipality, after all other financial obligations of the utility have been met. In a utility system operated by a board of trustees, as New Braunfels is, the amount transferred is determined by the board. This transfer from 1943 to 1996 has amounted to about $24 million.
The basis of transfer has changed through the years and is in accordance with a formula now that results in a
transfer of IO percent of the adjusted operating revenues. In 19% this amounted to $1.7 million. The City Council, however, requested an additional $750,000 from NBU to help pay for a new police station and to purchase a new fire truck. The
• • • • •
board of trustees agreed to this and took over a small water permit from the city. This permit has doubtful value on the Comal. I voted no to this transfer.
In previous times, during my 12 years on this board, nine years as president, I have voted against many of these added requests. Such added
requests, paid for by the utility customers in the form of rates, amounts to a hidden tax and I believe such money should, instead, continue to be used to expand and improve our utility system so that it may continue to be one of die most dependable, growing and economical systems in this area of the state.
City officials generally compare NBU’s contribution percentage to that of San Antonio, which is not fair and is unreasonable. Our conditions and problems are certainly not the same as those encountered in a large metropolitan area. It is generally not proper to com
pare only one item of an entity operation to that of another, regardless of
There will be more discussions on this subject by members of the city and the members of the utility board of trustees, and the matter will not be solved in letters and editorials to the media, but I believe the citizens of New Braunfels should be informed frat a considerable portion of their payment for water, sewer and electricity is sent to the city general fund and that requests are often made by the city to increase this portion.
I believe the formula presently being used is adequate and should be retained.
(E C. Momhinweg is vice president of the New Braunfels Utilities board of trustees.)
City entitled to share profits from municipally owned utility
Each year New Braunfels Utilities transfers money from its profits to the City of New Braunfels general fund budget. The payment from NBU to the city is not a donation or a hidden tax — it is an obligation of an agency owned by the city and is intended to benefit the taxpayers of our city who are the ultimate owners and shareholders of the utility company. There seems to be no disagreement between the city and NBU about the fact that payments should be made and have been made for years. The debate is how much.
NBU has long held a favored status because NBU’s payment to the city has been well below the national and state average. NBU acknowledges that the payment to the city from 1992 through 19% varied between “2.4 percent to 3.3 percent of NBU operating revenues” while the national average was “5.8 percent of (gross) revenues.” Other cities in this area receive substantially more than the national average; Lockhart receives 17 percent from its utility company, San Antonio receives 14 percent from City Public Service and Hondo receives more than 50 percent of the city budget from its utility company.
What all of this tells us is that it is a
duty of the utility to provide substantial funding to the city. Cities opt to buy a utility company because they want to provide reliable and quality service and also derive a significant source of income from a broad base without having to resort to increasing taxes. That is why the citizens of New Braunfels would decide to invest in a utility system — and we continue to invest every time we pay a utility' bill. How many of us consider 2.4 percent to 3.3 percent a good return on any investment, much less one that is supposed to help support us?
Last year NBU made more than $5 million in profit, yet a proponent for municipally owned utilities rate in the March 1997 issue of International Institute of Municipal Clerks that “there are no ‘profits’ with a municipal utility. All monies are public and surplus is transferred into the general operating budget of the city.” Similarly, the Texas
Public Power Association, of which NBU is a member, prominently includes in its mission statement that revenues from a city owned utility are supposed to “help keep sales and property taxes low, and fund basic local services like public safety, parks and libraries.” By not paying its fair share to the city, NBU is being subsidized by the taxpayers of New Braunfels. NBU does not want to provide an equitable rate of return to our citizens and seems proud that the City of New Braunfels has one of the lowest returns in the State of Texas from its utility.
NBU argues it should not be compared to other utilities.
How else then are we to judge performance? If I tell you that we have the best system and the lowest rates, have I not already compared our system and rates to others? In fact, aren’t comparisons precisely how we judge our performance. We either fail, meet or exceed some standard measurement lf
we have no comparative data to support our claims, then our argument is no stronger than the unsupported counterargument. In short, if I tell you New Braunfels is one of the safest cities in America, don’t you expect me to support that with evidence showing we have fewer crimes against persons and properties than other comparable cities? We should expect no less form our utility company.
NBU contends the payment is a hidden tax and the city should raise property taxes.
No matter what they call the transfer* — payment in lieu of taxes, return on investment, franchise fee or contractual obligation — the payment is provided for by state law and is a reasonable expectation on the pari of any city that owns its utility system. It is neither hidden nor a tax. However, NBU is correct in that the city needs to fjrnd additional sources of revenue. I believe, however, that we should look in our own back yard for funds before we look to our citizens. Since we are talking about sharing profits, there should be no decrease in the level of service and no increase in utility rates.
(Mike Shantis is New Braunfels city manager.)
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Today in History
The Associated Press
Today is Sunday, May 11, the 131st day of 1997. There are 234 days left in the year. This is Mother’s Day.
Today’s Highlight in History:
On May 11, 1946, the first packages from the relief agency CARE (Cooperative for American Remittances to Europe) arrived in Europe, at Le Havre, France.
On this date:
In 1647, Peter Stuyvesant arrived in New Amsterdam to become governor.
In 1858, Minnesota became the 32nd state of the Union.
In 1888, songwriter Irving Berlin was bom Israel Baline in Terrain, Russia.
In 1894, workers at the Pullman Palace Car Company in Illinois went on strike. (The American Railway Union, led by Eugene Debs, subsequently began a boycott of Pullman that blocked freight traffic in and out of Chicago.)
Ja 19|^Xilacier Rational Park in Montana wj^
In 1943, during World War ll, American forces landed on Japanese-held Attu island in the Aleutians. (The territory was retaken in three weeks.)
In 1944, Allied forces launched a major offensive in central Italy.
In 1947, the B F. Goodrich Company of Akron, Ohio, announced the development of a tubeless tire.
In 1949, Israel was admitted to the United Nations as the world body’s 59th member.
In 1949, Siam changed its named to Thailand.
, In 1973, charges against Daniel EHsberg for hts role in the Pentagon Papers case were dismissed by Judge William M. Byrne, who cited government misconduct.
In 1981, reggae artist Bob Marley, 36, died in a Miami hospital.
In 1985, more than 50 people died when a flash fire swept a jampacked soccer stadium in Bradford, England.
Ten years ago: In a medical first, doctors in Baltimore transplanted the heart and lungs of an auto accident victim to a patient who gave up his own heart to a second recipient. (Clinton House, the
nation’s first living heart donor, died 14 months la cr.) Former National Security Adviser Robert ( McFarlane began testifying at the Iran-Contra hca ings. The trial of former Gestapo official Klaus Ba hie began in Lyons, France.
Five years ago: 12 European countries recalU their ambassadors from Serb-dominated Yugoslav to protest Serb involvement in Bosnia’s ethnic wa One year ago: An Atlanta-bound ValuJet DC caught fire shortly after takeoff from Miami ar crashed into the Florida Everglades, killing all 11 people on board Today’s Birthdays: Actor-comedian Fosl Brooks is 85. Actor Denver Pyle is 77. Comedii Mort Sahl is 70. Rock singer Enc Burdon (The Ar mals; War) is 56. Actor Boyd Gaines is 44. Count) musician Mark Herndon (Alabama) is 42. Video I Martha Quinn is 38. Actress Natasha Richardson 34. Actor Austin O’Bnen (“Promised Land”) is I Thought for Today: “Whether women are bett than men, I cannot say —~ but I can say they a certainly no worse.” — Golda Meir, Israeli minister (1898-1978).