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Posts published in “Day: August 30, 2007

Harris County plans $880 million bond vote

The Harris County Commissioners Court, last week, approved a motion calling a county bond election for $880 million in roads, parks, facilities and port improvements.
County Judge Ed Emmett said that, if passed, the bond proposals would not trigger a property tax increase and would appear as three propositions on the Nov. 6, 2007, ballot.
Although court members may still alter the final amounts, Emmett said the court is considering the following bond amounts: Roads- $190 million; Parks- $95 mil lion; Adult Detention- $195 million; Forensic Center – $80 million; Family Law Center- $70 million for a County total of $630 million.
Additionally there will be a Port of Houston referendum for $250 million, bring the total election to $880 million.
Because Harris County’s economy is continuing its vigorous growth, Emmett said, county officials are confident these projects can be accomplished without increasing property tax rates.
“Voters right now are in no mood for a tax increase, and I have to agree with them on that,” Emmett said. “County policy has always been and continues to be to maintain the current tax rate.”

“One of the prime reasons Harris County’s economy continues to grow so strongly is because residents here realize the importance of investing in our economy,” Emmett said. “We need to keep up with our transportation and economic needs if we want to continue enjoying the benefits of a strong economy.”
Joe Stinebaker, communications director for Emmett, said that increases in property values will allow the county to generate the funds they need for the bonds without raising the individual property owners tax rate.
Stinebaker noted that the infrastructure improvements in each precinct would also encourage new business investment in Harris County. This, he said, would increase the county’s taxbase. With a larger tax base to draw upon, he added, more tax revenues would naturally follow.
Mark Seegers, spokesman for Commissioner Sylvia Garcia said that if approved the bonds would be used to address needs outline in the county’s master plan which looks at growth and development needs over the next seven years and beyond.

Public hearings set for HS rezoning

BAYTOWN— Goose Creek CISD will hold two public forums on junior school and high school rezoning during the month of September.
The first will be held on Sept. 20, in the auditorium of Robert E. Lee High School, 1809 Market St.
The second will be held on Sept. 25, in the auditorium of Ross S. Sterling, 300 W. Baker Rd. Both public forums will begin at 6:30 p.m.
In early September, GCCISD parents will receive information about the upcoming public forums as well as maps and descriptions of the attendance zone options proposed by the GCCISD Board of Trustees. Details of the options will be reviewed during the public forums, and community members will have the chance to comment on the options.
Information on the options also is available on the GCCISD web site at, where a link allows interested citizens to provide input.
In addition, parents may provide input on the rezoning options by e-mailing rezoning, calling 281-420-4808 or 281-420-4861, or faxing their comments to 281-420-4310.
Comments also may be sent by mail to Dr. Toby York, Deputy Superintendent for Personnel and Student Services, P.O. Box 30, Baytown, TX 77522.
Following the public forums, the Board will make the final decision regarding rezoning. Parents will then be notified if changes in attendance zones affect their child.
The district’s rezoning process was made necessary by the construction of a new Highlands Junior School, which will include room for additional students, as well as a new third high school, which is being constructed at North Main St. and Wallisville Rd.
Students and staff will move into the new Highlands Junior School during the winter break of the 2007-08 school year, and additional students will be zoned to Highlands Junior for the 2008-09 school year. The new high school will open as a ninth-grade through 11th-grade campus for the 2008-09 school year.

Recalling good places to eat…

Had to conduct some bizness the other day in Liberty, Texas. That’s across the Trinity River and up some from Day Lake if you know where that is. Anyway, found myself on the courthouse square at a little buffet style restaurant called SHARON’S KITCHEN.
One of my banker friends recommended this place and said they also cater to the Lions Club and Rotary Club of Liberty, adding the food is very good and priced right as well.
The food was good and plenty of it, so go hungry; they are open seven days a week.
Do enjoy checking out new places to break bread because it is a change from the same ole same ole.
Back when I was on the road working for Liggett & Myers and for Purex, you can bet I checked out new places and enjoyed it immensely. Mind you now this was on the eastern seaboard between Kinston, North Carolina and Georgetown, South Carolina.
Ate dozens of Hardee burgers enough to last a lifetime and it has.

Three places stand out in the recesses of my long term memory although their names have already faded away.
A boarding house in Tabor City, North Carolina had a daily buffet dinner (lunch to you city folks) which was as good as any I’ve ever had to this day. The one thing that sticks out particularly about that boarding house was the desserts. When in season, a huge strawberry shortcake was put before you and delicious it was. Another time would be a fresh peach shortcake….words cannot describe the tastiness of those desserts.
Two other places are pool halls, one in Tabor City, NC and the other in Wilmington, NC.
Tabor City would fry their hotdogs in oil over a piece of steel with the fry bowl battered down from it. They served Cocola’s (Coca-Cola) in the small bottles if you remember those.
The pool hall in Wilmington was another place that was most unique in its own way. It had the usual burgers and hot dogs and they also had “Bean of the day”. Simply one of the many beans and a few peas at times served in a bowl with a scoop of onion and two slices of bread. It took a large Coke to wash those down at times and they sure were good.
A buddy of mine said Alabama is so dry:
The Baptist have started sprinkling.
The Methodists are using a wet wash cloth.
The Presbyterians are giving rain checks and
The Catholics are trying to turn wine back into water.

Lump sum vs. Annuity: The choice is yours

Does your employer offer a pension? If so, you’ll want to be familiar with your payout options before it’s time to start taking money out – because your choice can have a big impact on your retirement income.
If you participate in a pension (also known as a “defined benefit” plan), you’ll receive, upon retirement, a specific amount of money based on your salary history and years of service. But how you take that money is up to you.
You have two basic options: You can accept the pension as a series of annuity payments, spread out over your lifetime or a certain number of years, or you can take the money as a lump sum. (Not all pension plans offer the lump-sum option, however.)
Which option is better? There’s no one “right” answer for everyone. But at some point before you retire, you should go over some possible arguments for both choices. Here are a few to consider:
Choosing a lump sum
*Can help you avoid effects of inflation – In many cases, annuity payments are not indexed to inflation. Consequently, you’re getting paid with dollars that are essentially worth less and less each year, while some costs – such as health care – may be rising at a rate faster than the Consumer Price Index, a common “yardstick” used to measure inflation. But if you take your pension as a lump sum, you’re getting all the money in today’s dollars.

*Can help you leave more to loved ones – Once you and your spouse die, annuity payments from a pension may stop. However, if you take a lump sum and then reinvest the proceeds into other securities, you may have more assets available to leave to family members.
*Can help you control when you pay taxes – Your annuity payments will be taxable. Of course, so will your lump sum, but if you roll it over into an IRA, you’ll have more control over when you take funds and pay income taxes provided you are over the age of 59 1/2.
Choosing an annuity
*Can give you greater flexibility in managing retirement income – If you choose to accept your defined benefit payments as an annuity, you may be able to structure your payments to match your needs and goals. Your options may include a “straight-life” annuity that provides a monthly payment for your lifetime or a “joint and survivor” annuity that covers your life and that of your spouse. Or, you may be able to choose a “level income” option, which provides you with larger payments before you start receiving Social Security and smaller payments after. Another option may be a “period certain” payout; under this arrangement, you would receive a reduced annuity over your lifetime, but if you were to die during a specified period, such as ten years, monthly payments would be made to your beneficiary for the remainder of the ten-year period.
*May give you more money over the course of your lifetime – If you end up living a few decades past your retirement date, you might end up with more money, in total, if you accepted an annuity instead of a lump sum.
As you near retirement, consult with your financial advisor and tax professional to determine which option – lump sum or annuity – is right for you. You worked hard for your pension – so make sure it works hard for you.