How basic city services like street repair get shoved aside

Robert Pratt photo Copyright Pratt on Texas

Robert Pratt

The issue of non-sufficient street maintenance in Abilene is so bad that some are proposing a new tax just to fund what the city should have already been doing for decades. This has prompted many, including me, to ask: What has the City of Abilene been doing with money it already gets to deliver basic services such as street maintenance?

The Wichita Falls Times Record News had a story by Claire Kowalick that well tells the story of how these supposed priorities play out in city after city:

“Downtown street improvements will be on the back burner for some time as the city redirects debt service funds for a portion of the new hotel/conference center near the Multi-Purpose Events Center.

“The Wichita Falls 4B Sales Tax Corp. met Thursday afternoon where Deputy City Manager Jim Dockery gave a presentation about the board’s upcoming annual budget.

“A line item missing from the upcoming year’s budget was the typically $400,000 in street overlays for downtown roads. Dockery said allot this expense every year to address road needs [sic], but after discussions with the 4B board, this item will be left off in the coming budget. At least $200,000 out of this area may be used for debt service payments for the future conference center near the [event center].”

And there you have it. Boring street maintenance and improvement gets shoved aside for the latest shiny new thing a group of civic cheerleaders get jazzed up about.

Many civic cheerleaders and elected officials are a bit like infants in the crib: Their eyes get excited and bright when shown something new, shiny and colorful and their attention follows the twinkling forgetting all that came before. It’s a terrible way to run a community.


  1. Abilene is not any different from Wichita Falls in this matter . Two councilmen working to represent the people is not enough to stem the tide ; our city is under siege from a few that think raising taxes on a predominantly minimum wage , AARP and Forbes favored retirement city ; as newly elected Councilwoman Donna Albus was heard to proclaim during the budget workshops, ” Maybe we just need to raise taxes.” Aside from the streets collectively being some of the worst a consulting company had ever seen, to your point , streets are not the only area of neglect. The centerpiece of the proposed “Convention Center Hotel “is the 47 year-old civic center that now needs an estimated $ 16 million in repairs that should have been part of an on-going maintence for many years as the restrooms in the foyer are not ADA compliant. After that investment is completed it is estimated by a local archetect that that same building would require $ 1.5 -2 million annually in maintenence. Now there are rumblings that there are city parks that have fallen into disrepair but recent unsolicited correspondence from my District 71 State Rep.Stan Lambert assured myself he is woking with the Parks Board to ” remedy this ill.” Mr. Pratt, your last paragraph sums it up rather nicely. I do believe that as a lifelong member of this community there are thosre standing up civic cheering at the prospect of s new tax-supported hotel while most of of the city’s small business and property owners are assuming a different posture as our city moves ever so closer to a “Street Maintenence Tax.”

What do you think?...

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