I believe county government should put people first. When we work for you, we transform communities. Your Precinct 4 team saved lives during Hurricane Harvey, provided food and supplies during the pandemic, and opened support centers for victims of violent crime during Harris County’s worst crime wave in decades. We continue to offer new amenities in your parks, maintain your roads, and provide unique programs daily. When government works efficiently for you, you feel safer in your homes and neighborhoods and have more money in your pocket.
Unfortunately, when government serves itself, your services often suffer. Instead of improving your parks, roads, and communities, government officials threaten to take services away if it doesn’t receive more of your money. As the current county budget battle continues, I encourage you to look past the rhetoric and fear mongering to imagine what government can – and should — do for you.
During the budget and tax rate discussions in September, Commissioner Tom S. Ramsey and I advocated for increasing funding for law enforcement while reducing the tax burden on residents struggling to cope with rising inflation, high property appraisals, and the aftermath of the pandemic.
After rejecting our proposal, our three colleagues on Commissioners Court returned with a new tax proposal that takes advantage of massively inflated property values, all while providing minimal benefits to the public.
Rather than agree to a budget we could not support, Commissioner Ramsey and I chose to deny the court the quorum it needed to increase your property taxes by $257 million. If we had attended these meetings, the court majority made it clear they would have pushed through the tax revenue increase without public discussion or negotiation. We know this based on their surprise decision last year to flip precincts 3 and 4 for political gain without debate or input from voters or their elected commissioners. The public paid a high price for this irresponsible decision, and the price may continue to rise if we allow the majority to continue ramming through decisions unquestioned and undebated.
I now ask the majority once more to compromise. Judge Hidalgo has the power to call a special session of Commissioners Court — specifying that it is for discussion only — so Commissioner Ramsey and I can join our colleagues to openly discuss the budget without fear that the majority will ram through their beloved tax increase.
We were able to reach an agreement last year, and I hope we can do so again this year — one that will benefit law enforcement, flood control, healthcare, and you.
Regardless of the outcome, I assure you that your services will continue, as the “no new revenue” rate provides the county with the same property tax revenue as last year, plus an additional $66 million resulting from growth. Your Precinct 4 team remains committed to maintaining your parks, roads, and community centers and providing recreational and educational programs for seniors and families. As always, I serve you.
Budget Battle: What You Need to Know
The Office of Management and Budget has proposed a set of tax rates that would generate $257 million in revenue above the No New Revenue (NNR) rate. This is the rate favored by the court majority.
Commissioners Cagle and Ramsey skipped the last two Commissioners Court meetings and denied the court majority the quorum they needed to pull off that $257 million cash grab. If Cagle or Ramsey had attended those meetings, the majority would have adopted the proposed tax rate and budget without debate or discussion.
According to the Harris County Appraisal District, 97.35% of Harris County residents saw an increase in appraised home values from 2021 to 2022. Some areas saw market values increase by as much as 30% in 2022.
Commissioner Cagle has said he is willing to negotiate the tax rate and budget during a discussion-only meeting of Commissioners Court. He has proposed a tax rate that would generate $149 million in revenue above the NNR rate — saving taxpayers $108 million compared with the Office of Management and Budget proposal — while still funding key priorities.
Cagle’s proposal fully funds Harris County Flood Control’s request with an additional $24.1 million, covers the projected “deficit” in the Harris County Hospital District’s with an additional $45 million, provides $56 million for 200 more full-time law-enforcement officers and salary increases for existing officers, and leaves an additional $24 million in discretionary funding for Commissioners Court.
Cagle also called on the court majority to stop holding important flood control, public safety and parks and road projects in precincts 3 and 4 hostage in retaliation for his opposition to their tax increase.
So far, County Judge Lina Hidalgo has refused to call a discussion-only meeting, and Commissioners Ellis and Garcia have ridiculed attempts to have a public discussion.
“Unfortunately, hours after I requested a chance for fair and honest discussion, Commissioners Garcia and Ellis issued statements criticizing my proposal without even discussing it,” said Cagle. “They instead tried to bait me into coming to the next Commissioners Court meeting, knowing that negotiations will end the minute I step into that room.”
About Commissioner Cagle
Cagle is the longest-serving member of Commissioners Court with more than a decade of experience. He supports public safety, flood control, low taxes, true government transparency, and efficient government.
Commissioner Cagle Opens Support Center
For Victims of Violent Crime
Victims of violent crime now have more resources in their community. Commissioner R. Jack Cagle opened Precinct 4’s second Victim Support Service Center at Katy Christian Ministries on Monday.
The center will serve as a convenient location close to home for victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking, and other violent crimes to meet with trauma nurses and staff of the district attorney’s and sheriff’s offices. Services that used to take more than 20 hours to complete will now take a fraction of the time.
Victims will also receive a hotel voucher and transportation so they will not have to go back to their attackers in cases of abuse.
“After experiencing trauma, victims shouldn’t have to jump through hoops to pursue charges against their attacker or abuser,” said Cagle. “The victim service center provides a safe space for victims to receive the help they need in one location. I hope this center serves as a model for improving victim services across the county.”
Cagle opened the first Victim Service and Support Center at the Ponderosa Fire Department in January. The area was formerly in Precinct 4 but was moved to Precinct 3 in last year’s redistricting. He plans to open additional locations in crime hotspots across the precinct.
“Services like these have always been rare outside Beltway 8,” he said. “But crime happens everywhere. I’m proud to continue bringing more services to Precinct 4 residents.”
The new victim service center was made possible through partnerships with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office, Harris County Precinct 5 Constable’s Office, Harris County District Attorney’s Office, Texas Forensic Nurse Examiners, Northwest Assistance Ministries, and TOMAGWA. TOMAGWA donated a medical bed, and Precinct 4 donated medical supplies.
Precinct 4 Welcomes Fall With Food, Fun, and Festivals!
Fall brings cooler weather, seasonal treats, and festivals. Check out our lineup of events coming to a location near you this October.
Times and Dates Vary
Celebrate fall by joining us for pumpkin patches, photo booths, crafts, sweet treats, and more on Saturday, Oct. 1, at Steve Radack Community Center, Saturday, Oct. 15, at Bayland Park, and Saturday, Oct. 22, at Nottingham Park. Activities begin at 1 p.m.
Thursday, Oct. 6, from noon to 2 p.m. at Hockley Community Center
Grab your dirndl or lederhosen and join us for this year’s Oktoberfest, featuring typical German food, non-alcoholic beverages, carnival-style games, music, and a little yodeling. A raffle will be included in the fun. Stop by the center with your $10 check made out to “All4Fun” to get a ticket. For more information, visit hcp4.net/hockley.
Senior Halloween Bash and Luncheon
Friday, Oct. 28, at noon, at Tracy Gee Community Center
Spooky season is around the corner. Don’t miss Precinct 4’s Halloween Bash for those 50 and older featuring ghoulish music, spooky fun, carnival games, and a Halloween costume contest. Visitors will receive a hot, catered meal that includes BBQ chicken, butter potatoes, baked beans, refreshments, and dessert. Make memories with us by taking photos in front of our Halloween backdrop. Purchase your $10 ticket by Friday, Oct. 21.
Fall Harvest Festival
Saturday, Oct. 29, noon – 4 p.m., at Bear Creek Pioneers Park, pavilion 6, 15015 Clay Road in Houston
Enjoy a fun-filled afternoon featuring free activities for all ages, including pony rides, a petting zoo, carnival games, children’s crafts, a pumpkin patch, and much more. Come in costume and join the fun. For more information, visit hcp4.net/events.
Progress in Your Parks
From pickleball courts and cricket fields to new trails and amenities, Precinct 4 is making a lot of progress in your parks. We recently funded six new SPARK park projects for students and community members to enjoy at schools in Houston and Alief ISDs.
Sinclair, Rodriguez, Memorial, Kennedy, Hearne, and Alexander elementary schools received a variety of improvements, including new paved trails, playground equipment, art installations, and an outdoor classroom.
The SPARK School Park Program works with schools and neighborhoods to develop community parks on public school grounds. Although each park is unique, a typical park consists of playground equipment, a walking trail, benches, picnic tables, trees, an outdoor classroom, and public art.
Precinct 4 features more than 40 SPARK parks. Find a SPARK park near you by clicking here.
Pavilion Coming Soon to Arthur Storey Park
Precinct 4 will soon bring the beautiful traditional architecture of Asia to Arthur Storey Park.
Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner R. Jack Cagle kicked off construction last month on a pavilion that will serve as a gathering place for park visitors to relax and reflect.
The 32-by-32-foot pavilion will feature an ornate traditional roof designed and built in Taiwan. Precinct 4 will pay for the $750,000 pavilion, and STOA Architects will build it.
Construction should finish March 31.
Arthur Storey Park, a popular park near Chinatown, features other Asian-inspired touches, including a yin-yang yoga pad. The pavilion will serve as one more decorative piece reflecting the area’s diverse heritage. The park is at 7400 W. Sam Houston Parkway S. in Houston.
Sample ballots for the General and Special Election are here. Find yours today here.
Cast your ballot to make your voice heard. Early voting is Oct. 24 through Nov. 4, followed by Election Day on Nov. 8.
Residents may vote at any polling location during early voting and on Election Day. Visit harrisvotes.com to find a polling place near you.
A Better Way to Control Mosquitoes
Rainy season is on the way and so are the mosquitoes. Early fall in Texas usually brings warm, wet weather, resulting in mosquito population surges. Luckily, Precinct 4’s Biological Control Initiative is working hard to keep your outdoor excursions free of pests.
Anita Schiller, the director of Precinct 4’s Biological Control Initiative, uses nature to target pest mosquitoes at parks, preserves, and partner sites within Precinct 4.
A few of her top agents include nematodes, adult mosquito assassins, and mosquito fish. These pest killers target mosquitoes before they can bite, when they are still in the larval stage.
They inhabit all the locations mosquitoes congregate – ponds, storm drains, and containers.
Commissioner R. Jack Cagle established Harris County Precinct 4’s Biological Control Initiative in 2012 to find and develop natural mosquito-control methods. When incorporated into pest management programs, biological control enhances the effectiveness of pesticides and can reduce the need for their application.
Precinct 4 Events Visit hcp4.net/events for more information.
Movie in the Park: Hocus Pocus
Multiple dates ands times
The Sanderson sisters are back! Before watching Hocus Pocus 2, join us for a showing of the movie that started it all. Pack your blankets, chairs, and snacks and join us at dusk for Hocus Pocus on the big screen.
Crafts begin at 7 p.m. Popcorn is free.
Friday, Oct. 14, at McClendon Park
Friday, Oct. 21, at Nottingham Park
Friday, Oct. 28, at Zube Park
Life in Watercolor: Chen Zong Ho’s Memories of Taiwan
Wednesday, Oct. 12 – 28, at the Tracy Gee Community Center
Harris County Precinct 4 invites the community to an exhibition of Chen Zong Ho’s watercolor paintings of Taiwan. Chen Zong Ho’s unique painting style blends traditional Western watercolor techniques with his love of the landscape, scenery, and history of his beloved country. His depictions of Taiwan were featured in the nation’s postcards in the 1970s, encouraging tourists to visit the best historical sites and scenic spots. Learn more here.
Painting Credit: Chen Zong Ho
Diggin’ Old Stuff Archaeology Festival
Saturday, Nov. 5, 9 a.m. – 3 p.m. at the Kleb Woods Nature Preserve
Join us for a fun day of activities at Kleb Woods Nature Center. Participate in an archaeological dig, forge your own keepsake, and tour the 1896 Kleb house. All are welcome to attend this free family-friendly event. Children must be 7 or older to participate in the archaeology dig.