Voting stands high as our civic community’s right, privilege, and duty! As the Nov. 8 election nears, I encourage you to take advantage of the resources your Precinct 4 team offers to improve your voting experience.
We offer early and Election Day voting locations at six of your Precinct 4 community centers, so you don’t have to travel far to cast your ballot. We also provide in this E-Corneredition and online a roundup of voting resources.
Learn how to skip the line during Early Voting or on Election Day by looking up wait times before you head to the polls. Avoid surprises by planning your visit early. Learn how to use Harris County’s new voting machines, check identification requirements, find answers to your frequently asked questions, and look up your sample ballot.
Don’t forget to research the candidates. Your county leaders control how much taxes you pay, what services you receive, and the scope of government. Do you want to expand the size of government and the services it offers at the cost of higher taxes? Or do you want lower taxes, well-defined services, and smaller government? The choice is yours this election season.
This issue also answers some of your frequently asked questions about the ongoing county tax increase dispute, upcoming events and activities, park and infrastructure updates, and more. Read all this and more in this edition of E-Corner.
Why do the three Democratic members of Commissioners Court say they tried to cut taxes, while commissioners Cagle and Ramsey say they tried to raise them?
The amount of taxes you pay is based on the appraised value of your home multiplied by the tax rate. When the tax rate is cut, homeowners can still pay more in taxes if their property values increase.
This is the case in Harris County. The majority on Commissioners Court proposed a lower overall property tax rate, but that rate would have increased overall tax collections by $257 million because of higher property values. The majority’s “tax cut” would have increased housing costs for nearly 98% of homeowners and renters in Harris County, who would have directly — or indirectly through their landlord — paid more in taxes.
Why did Commissioner Cagle skip meetings? Isn’t it his job to attend meetings?
Commissioner R. Jack Cagle’s job is to represent the people of Precinct 4. He believes he cannot adequately represent Precinct 4 residents if he cannot negotiate in their favor. The court majority has a history of ramming through decisions without allowing commissioners Cagle and Ramsey to speak, ask questions, or provide input — and the current budget battle is no exception.
Commissioner Cagle has said that the minute he and Commissioner Ramsey enter the courtroom, the court majority will vote to increase the tax burden on residents without negotiation.
Cagle instead chose to “vote with his feet” by not attending the meetings and denying the court the quorum needed to increase the tax burden. By denying the court a quorum, Cagle was able to secure the “no new revenue” rate, which will bring in the same revenue as last year, plus $66 million to $74 million in additional money from growth.
Will Commissioners Court have to cut the county budget with the “no new revenue” rate?
No, Harris County will not have to cut its budget. In a 3-0 vote, the majority of Commissioners Court adopted a budget earlier in September based on the “no new revenue” rate, which will provide more revenue than last year.
However, the adopted budget is smaller than the proposed budget favored by the court majority. The difference between the proposed and adopted budgets, along with partisan politics, has fueled harmful claims in the media that the county may have to cut essential services.
What does the “no new revenue” rate mean for residents?
Residents should not experience changes in services or increases in their tax bills with the “no new revenue” rate. In contrast, the court majority proposed a budget and tax rate that would have resulted in higher tax payments for nearly 98% of residents, according to the Harris County Appraisal District. Commissioner Cagle’s favored budget keeps tax bills from increasing during a time of historic inflation. Services should also stay the same because the county will bring in the same revenue as last year, plus additional money from growth.
How does the “no new revenue” rate generate additional revenue? Won’t the county receive the same amount of money as last year?
Contrary to what some believe, the “no new revenue” rate does not mean the county will collect the exact same amount of money as last year. A more accurate description is that the tax burden will not change for residents, despite increased appraised property values. Because new properties are added to the tax rolls each year, tax revenue nearly always increases, even at the “no new revenue” rate.
Recent estimates show the “no new revenue” rate should increase countywide tax revenue by approximately $66 million to $74 million next year. This number includes the tax collections for Harris County, the Harris County Hospital District, the Harris County Flood Control District, and the Port Authority, the county’s four taxing entities. Given the ongoing discussions on the budgets of all four entities, Commissioner Cagle believes this is the most accurate and transparent way to report revenue generated from the “no new revenue” rate.
For more information on the “no new revenue” rate, click here.
Precinct 4 Election Resources
Precinct 4 is here for you during election season. We offer a variety of voting resources in one convenient location. Find polling places, important dates, educational resources, and more athcp4.net/elections.
Cast your ballot at the following Precinct 4 locations during early voting from Monday, Oct. 24, to Friday, Nov. 4, or on Election Day, Tuesday, Nov. 8.
Bayland Community Center, 6400 Bissonnet Street; Houston
Hockley Community Center, 28515 Old Washington Road, Hockley
John Paul Landing Environmental Education Center, 9950 Katy Hockley Road, Cypress
Tracy Gee Community Center, 3599 Westcenter Drive, Houston
Steve Radack Community Center, 18650 Clay Road, Houston
Richard & Meg Weekley Community Center, 8440 Greenhouse Road, Cypress
Harris County Cricket League Inspires
Commissioner Cagle to Open New Cricket Fields at John Paul Landing Park
Harris County Precinct 4 opened three new cricket fields earlier in the month at John Paul Landing Park in Cypress, giving sports enthusiasts a place close to home to play one of the world’s most popular sports.
Precinct 4 partnered with Triggers Colts Cricket League to plan and build the fields on vacant land at John Paul Landing Park.
“As cricket becomes more popular in Harris County, demand for fields continues to grow,” said Commissioner R. Jack Cagle. “I’m proud Precinct 4’s John Paul Landing will serve as one more location to play this popular sport.”
Construction began in April. Precinct 4 built the cricket fields and a paved trail. Triggers Colts Cricket League designed the fields and built the pitches.
Cricket, a bat-and-ball game similar to baseball, is played on oblong fields with wickets instead of bases and a pitch instead of a mound. It is the second-most popular sport in the world, after soccer.
The project is the third sports field project undertaken by Precinct 4 this year. Commissioner Cagle recently opened pickleball courts at Weekley Community Center and broke ground on soccer pitches at Burnett Bayland Park in Gulfton, in addition to beginning work on an Asian-style pavilion at Arthur Storey Park.
Visitors can access the new fields at 24502 West Road in Cypress.
Precinct 4’s Blue Light Cemetery
If you think cemeteries are spooky, just imagine visiting one with glowing tombstones. Deep within Precinct 4’s Bear Creek Pioneers Park is a hidden cemetery known for the ghostly blue light that emanates from the graves in the moonlight.
Known locally as the “Blue Light Cemetery,” the Hillendahl-Eggling Cemetery was founded by German immigrants in the mid-1800s before being abandoned in 1902. Because of repeated flooding, the bodies were moved, and the lot was left untended. The cemetery has since become the subject of many local myths, legends, and ghost stories.
Decades ago, teens used to visit the site to scare each other and hunt for the ghostly tombstones. People also reportedly held occult meetings there in the ’70s and ’80s. Visitors have described finding morbid objects around the graveyard, like boxes shaped like tombs and objects used in voodoo rituals.
Other sources say the cemetery was a popular parking spot for couples in the ’40s and ’50s. A book called “Weird Texas” describes hauntings along Patterson Road at North Eldridge Parkway, just outside the cemetery. According to legend, motorists who park along Langham Bridge will hear tapping on their cars from long-dead soldiers. Some visitors have also reported experiencing strange phenomena like sudden temperature drops, floating orbs in photos, and audio recordings of unknown voices.
Although most stories surrounding the cemetery remain unexplained, historians are at least sure of one thing. The tombstones’ blue glow is from labradorite, a highly reflective mineral commonly used to make New Age jewelry. Harris County contains multiple “blue light” cemeteries featuring these reflective gravestones.
Unfortunately, vandals, graverobbers, and time have destroyed much of Precinct 4’s “blue light” cemetery. The area is now fenced off and inaccessible to visitors.
As time passes, the cemetery fades into memory. But occasionally, new stories surface during spooky season, helping preserve the memory of one of Precinct 4’s most historical — and possibly haunted — sites.
Photo illustration by Grace Diaz
Harris County Precinct 4 continues to transform communities. Precinct 4 has partnered with Super Neighborhood 14 Community and the City of Houston on a $5 million effort to improve safety and mobility in the Lazybrook/Timbergrove neighborhood.
The project includes concrete panel replacements and repairs, asphalt repairs, sidewalk repairs, and ADA ramp installations. The project should be substantially complete by January 2023.
When the growing season winds down, Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project ramps up.
Fall is officially tree-planting season in Texas and one of the busiest times of year for Laura Medick, who leads Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project. Medick brings historical, native, and orchard trees to public green spaces in neighborhoods, schools, and parks across the precinct.
Her goals include the following:
Planting and caring for urban trees to create healthier, more beautiful communities
Preserving the historic trees of Texas
And promoting the benefits of trees through educational events.
Medick travels across Texas to collect acorns and cuttings from famous Texas trees. She then plants the material to expand Precinct 4’s historical tree collection. Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project now features 35 named historical trees available to schools, residents, and nonprofits.
Did you know you can help beautify the community and preserve a piece of Texas history?
You can participate in Precinct 4’s Legacy Trees Project by visiting us online at hcp4.net/legacy-trees-events/.
About the Legacy Trees Project
Plans for a tree-planting program began in 2015 when Commissioner R. Jack Cagle received a historical tree donation from the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The gift inspired him to create a program dedicated to preserving historical trees listed in the Texas A&M Forest Services’ Famous Trees of Texas guidebook. Cagle expanded the program in 2018 to include fruit and nut tree plantings, educational events, and volunteer opportunities.
Precinct 4 Events
Visit hcp4.net/events for more information.
Family Movie Night: “Secret Life of Pets”
Saturday, Nov. 5, at 5:30 p.m. at Ray Miller Park
Join Harris County Precinct 4 and Houston City Councilmember Mary Nan Huffman for family movie night. Arrive at 5:30 p.m. and meet some pets from local shelters looking for their “furever” home. The movie will begin at dusk. Bring a picnic blanket or chairs to enjoy the movie on the lawn.
Honoring our Veterans
Wednesday, Nov. 9, at 1 p.m. at Steve Radack Community Center
Join us in an early tribute to our veterans. We have a guest speaker planned, and Mayde Creek High School Concert Choir will perform. Light refreshments will be served. For more information, visit hcp4.net/radack.
Tuesday, Nov. 15, at 11:30 a.m. at Tracy Gee Community Center
Join us for our annual Thanksgiving Luncheon. Tickets are $10 per person, and a reservation is required. Payments are made in person by check or money order payable to “All4Fun”. The last day to buy tickets is Wednesday, Nov. 9. For additional information, contact Tracy Gee Community Center at 832-927-1880 or visithcp4.net/tracy-gee.
Thanksgiving Luncheon and Concert
Thursday, Nov. 17, 11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m. at Glazier Senior Education Center
Precinct 4’s All4Fun will host a Thanksgiving luncheon at Glazier SEC. The meal will include turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy, green beans, cranberries, a roll, and tea. A dessert of pumpkin or pecan pie will also be provided. At 1 p.m., a concert will be performed by La Speranza’s string trio. Register in advance. $10 per person. For more information, visit hcp4.net/glazier.
Senior Games and Thanksgiving Catered Luncheon
Friday, Nov. 18, 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. at Hockley Community Center
Come join us for ‘42’ dominoes, canasta, bridge, Mexican Train dominoes, or pick a board game. In celebration of Thanksgiving, a traditional holiday meal will be catered for lunch. Stop by the center with your $10 check made out to “All4Fun” by Friday, Nov. 11 to get a ticket. For more information about Hockley Community Center, click here.