By Robert Wright, Community Contributor
Thank you, community contributor John Helmer. Your opinion piece, which ran in this publication last week with the object to engage and inspire others to get involved, worked on me. I must first say that I am a life-long McKinney resident. I grew up in this town, riding my bike around town when it had a population of 15,000, and I hunted on land that is now Stonebridge. I must also say that I am not a City Of McKinney employee and analyzing the points you posed, I find the COM staff doing an excellent job. Especially considering the population of McKinney more than doubled from 2000 to 2010.
For analysis purposes, I used the 12 Texas cities with a population between 110,000 and 150,000. McKinney had an estimated 131,000 in 2011 so it fell slightly above average in population in the cities used. Based on 3% estimated growth, McKinney should be around 150,000 in 3 to 5 years.
Comparing relevant information to make an informed analysis of the COM staffing levels, I compared the number of employees for the 12 Texas cities and found the City of McKinney ranked first with the lowest number of employees per 1,000 of population.
A municipality or private sector company desires to hire and retain the best possible talent. To accomplish this task, requires a competitive wage and benefit package. Since it appears the City staff is doing an excellent job of managing staffing levels I looked at the cost of service. The cost of service is an indicator of how well the staff is managing staffing levels and salary and benefit costs.
One main components of the O&M property tax rate is salary and benefit costs. The City of McKinney ranked the 4th lowest of the 12 cities at $ 0.4122 per $100 of property valuation. This equates to $ 824 for a $200,000 property valuation. Considering that 70% of this cost is actually salary and benefit costs, $576 is how much such a property contributes to the salary and benefits. I would wager a property owner with a $200,000 valuation spends more on cable than on salary and benefits for City of McKinney employees.
Most cities use bonds (debt financing) as a way to keep city infrastructure in pace with growth. Using the most recent debt tax rate, $0.1733, McKinney ranked 5th of the 12 cities and slightly less than the average of $0.1820. This indicates to me a wise use of debt financing and fiscal restraint.
My comparison ends by looking at the overall property tax rate. The City of McKinney ranks 4th lowest and below the average of the12 cities used in the comparison. Since the City of McKinney is not at either extreme, too low or too high, I would argue that the city staff is doing an excellent job.
Spend a little time driving around and look at everything the City of McKinney has to offer. Probably on average, people spend more annually on cable and cell phones than on the salary and benefits for city staffers. Based on comparisons of 12 similar sized cites, it is obvious that McKinney is at the top of the list. If you think taxes are too high in McKinney, look at the other 3 cities and ask yourself if you would rather live there. I would not and I can see why McKinney received high ranks among the best places to live according to a national publication.