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City of Brady

Members of the Brady City Council and their supporters seem genuinely puzzled by opposition to their grand plans for “economic development”. They shouldn't be.

While they are building an “aquatic park”, developing an ATV park for adult-age children to race through the mud on their 4-wheel toys, planting and watering hundreds of willow trees among the mesquites at the lake, improving the walking path along the filthy creek and hanging Christmas lights on the trees in the park, the hard working citizens open their City Utility bills to find a state mandated notice that the City of Brady water system does not meet minimum state standards.

Not only does the water the City of Brady delivers not meet state standards, sometimes it comes out of the tap the color of urine or worse. At other times it has so much chlorine in it that it burns eyes and skin like over-chlorinated hot tub water. This is not a sudden emergency situation. It is the long-term norm for Brady.

Read more: Economic Development? Start with Clean Drinking Water

Liberty BellWe, the people, need to know what government entities and their many subsidiary boards, committees, agencies, commissions, etc are doing. They obligate the people to fulfill the agreements they make. However, they  sometimes fail to fully inform the people about proposed obligations in advance. As a result,the people find they are obligated to pay for projects, facilities and services they do not want or need.

Under ideal conditions, elected officials and government employees gladly make every detail about public spending readily available. Failure to do so arouses citizen animosity toward government and fuels suspicion of incompetence and/or corruption.

McCulloch County has at least six taxing entities (County, City, Hospital, Brady ISD, Lohn ISD , and Rochelle ISD) with a combined operating budget in excess of $40,000,000 per year.

That is more than $5,000 per year for every man, woman and child in McCulloch County. Astonishingly, about half of it is spent by the City of Brady.

Inquiring citizens have sometimes found city officials less than open about the activities at the City of Brady. Brady City Council meetings seem poorly publicized; Council meetings are not held at times most convenient to its constituents.  (Mayor Gail Lohn is commended again for her effort to change that.).  Frequent executive sessions are  closed to the public leave meeting attendees with the impression that important information is being kept from them. In fact, some Council members seem openly hostile when questions are posed or opposition is expressed by Brady residents.

BBN has made the Texas Municipal League's Guidelines for Compliance with the Open Meetings Act and the Public Information Act easily  available to everyone interested. These guidelines are short and easy to understand. It is appropriate for any citizen to remind public officials of their responsibilities under the law and report violations to the Texas Attorney General's office.

There are three reasons many citizens oppose the City of Brady's facilitation of an ATV Park on city property at Brady Lake. The first is on principle, the second is for business reasons and the third is because it is offensive and damaging to citizens living nearby. We will look at each of these sources of opposition in reverse order.

ATV Park Under Construction
ATV Park Under Construction

Those who live near the proposed ATV park do not want 4-wheelers running day and night near their homes any more than people who live in town want them blasting through the alleys, streets, vacant lots, parks and school grounds. In fact, the City of Brady prohibits their operation unless they are fully licensed for on-road operation. Citizens near the proposed park are offended that their lifestyle and property values are not being considered by the Brady City Council. They are justifiably indignant and angry.

 

The business plan, legal documents, regulatory approval procedures, accounting, insurance and financial stability of the developer are ambiguous enough to raise doubt about the City's business practices and acumen. Also, the relationship between City Officials and the ATV Park developer leave many serious questions unanswered. Retired businessman Bill Neslage, a local resident, has publicized these concerns in a series of paid ads in the Brady Standard-Herald and on KNEL radio.

 

Others oppose the project because it uses tax revenues to finance a private business enterprise. They believe that government should not finance selected business ventures. In principle, government should restrict its activities to providing public services that allow private businesses to prosper or fail on their own merits.

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