There is plenty of work to accomplish over the next decade in Mansfield, TX and Casey has several ideas that will make Mansfield an even better place to live. His platform really focuses in three key areas: Property Tax Relief, Controlled Sustainable Growth, and Enhanced Quality of Life.
Property Tax Relief
Most citizens may not be aware, but the annual property tax bill is actually broken out among several taxing entities. Mansfield residents pay property taxes to the City, Tarrant County, Tarrant Regional Water District, JPS Health Network, Tarrant County College, and Mansfield ISD. The tax rate for most homeowners in Mansfield is 2.877889% of appraised value.
It is true that the school district portion of this tax rate is 1.54%. That is 53% of the overall tax bill. Unfortunately due to the way the Texas State Legislature has handled public school funding over the past decade it has become increasingly difficult to lower this portion of the property tax rate. Because of the way school funding works, lowering the property tax rate even though property values are increasing ultimately results in significantly less funding for our local schools. Until the state legislature fixes public school funding we will continue to see the Mansfield ISD tax rate in this 1.50%-1.54% range.
That being said, the City of Mansfield tax rate has been set at .71% (25% of the overall tax bill) for years now even though we have increased in property values and substantially increased sales tax revenues. The average Mansfield homeowner with a home valued around $225,000 saw a property tax bill increase in just the city portion of about $250 for the year. This has happened each year since 2014, so that same city tax bill is now about $750 higher than it was just 4 years ago.
Yes. Mansfield is a growing city in need of tax revenue to help support infrastructure costs and maintain city services. However many other cities across the metroplex are rapidly growing and they are looking into ways to provide property tax relief for homeowners. Mansfield is NOT currently pursuing property tax relief for its residents. In fact, among the 10 largest cities in Tarrant County, Mansfield has the 2nd highest property tax rate. The average property tax rate among the 10 largest cities in Tarrant County is 17% lower than the Mansfield tax rate AND the majority of those cities provide a homestead exemption for homeowners.
Work with city staff and create increased scrutiny on the city operating budget and find savings as well as creative ways to increase revenue in order to provide tax relief. It won't be overnight, but Casey would like to cast a vision for the City of Mansfield to work on a 5 year plan to provide all owner-occupied homeowners with a minimum of a 10% homestead exemption. The most important part is that we accomplish this WITHOUT IMPACT TO FIRST RESPONDERS OR CITY SERVICES.
This is possible. Dozens of other cities in N. Texas are accomplishing this currently. Mansfield needs leadership to cast a vision for the city staff to execute a 5 year plan to provide property tax relief.
Controlled Sustainable Growth
It's almost impossible to drive through Mansfield today without congested traffic and road construction delays. Most N. Texas cities are seeing a boom in population growth. Our economy is strong and in comparison to the rest of the country our cost of living is low.
This boom of course causes growing pains. The danger however is growing so fast in an uncontrolled way that we end up with pockets of multi-family housing throughout town, constant road construction, infrastructure strains, ballooning tax bills, and 27 fast food chicken restaurants. The risk is that if the economy slows down - or development costs skyrocket even further - then we become overextended and the results could prove catastrophic.
The answer to this is controlled sustainable growth with strategic planning.
Mansfield is different than Arlington. We want to work with developers to create a family friendly community with activities, shopping, dining, and work opportunities. Strategic planning for controlled sustainable growth means that we attract the right employers, the right retailers, the right housing developments and that we help them find locations that make the most sense for long term success. It means working out long term incentives to developers if they'll help us offset the upfront cost of infrastructure. It means working with the Mansfield Economic Development Corporation to bring in high-paying tech industry jobs. It means working with utility providers to improve our cell phone signals, internet speeds, and electric grid.
This is possible. Frisco, as an example, was the same size as Mansfield in the early 2000's. Their Economic Development Corporation worked hard and landed thousands of high paying jobs with Toyota, State Farm, and several other big name companies. Mansfield has the same potential.
Quality of Life
Mansfield already has an amazing, award winning parks department. Our city staff is some of the hardest working and brightest employees in any city government. Our first responders are some of the bravest and kindest individuals in the world. The Pickle Parade and Rockin 4th of July are two amazing city sponsored events. The Historic Downtown revitalization projects are amazing.
As a family friendly and oriented town however we are missing out on venues for family activities. It is common for Mansfield residents to travel to Ft. Worth, Arlington, Grapevine/Southlake, and even Dallas or Frisco for their entertainment, date nights, and dining options. This is a missed opportunity for Mansfield.
Mansfield also has a growing retirement age population of longtime residents. Unfortunately housing options for this demographic community are limited. Mansfield's focus on building $400,000 2,500+ sq. ft. homes has left a void in the market for seniors wishing to downsize but stay in the city they've called home for decades. Many seniors are looking to Arlington or Grand Prairie for smaller housing with smaller yards. Those cities all have robust senior center programs and facilities. It's frustrating to lose long-time residents because they can't have the quality of life they wish to have in the city they've called home and invested in for decades.
The transportation options in Mansfield are non-existent. Getting around town requires the use of our congested roadways and the city does not have a positive walkability factor. As autonomous vehicle technology continues to grow around the world and public transportation becomes more and more common in surrounding cities, Mansfield is being left behind.
Casey want's to see the completion of the linear trail project with the minimum being a walkable trail from Oliver Nature Park to Downtown Mansfield. This trail connects a large number of residents to the majority of Mansfield city parks and drives foot traffic into Historic Downtown. Projects like this have timelines delayed when the city decides to take on projects like the Stars Center instead.
Casey would also like to work with the many developers coming to town to provide multi-use projects that provide family entertainment and activity options. Those multi-use projects should include housing elements that provide smaller detached townhomes or row homes with community gathering spaces, similar to what you would see in Southlake Town Square or Addison.
The Mansfield Activities Center is a great opportunity for the city to expand and provide family entertainment and activity options including a recreation center with pool tables, ping pong tables, volleyball, tetherball, basketball, rock climbing, a splash pad, and more.
It can't happen immediately but Casey would also like to cast a vision with city staff to build a senior center by 2025 that is similar to the Summit in Grand Prairie. Arlington is building something similar around 2022. One of the reasons Mansfield is great is because of our school system and that is great because the sacrifice our senior citizens have made over the years, investing in our city. We owe it to our senior citizen community to make sure they have a place to live and activities to participate in so they can enjoy retirement.
Again, this isn't something that can happen immediately but Casey want's to start a conversation in Mansfield about public transportation. Autonomous vehicles are happening and could be a primary mode of transportation in the future. Mansfield can't be left behind in this area. Casey wants to see the main "hubs" in Mansfield connected with some sort of public transport - maybe a trolley system or something not yet thought of. (Hawaiian Falls & Big League Dreams, Newsom Stadium, Kroger & 360, Shops at Broad, Historic Downtown, 287 & 157, Debbie & 287, Matlock & Debbie). This isn't an immediate priority. But it is something we need to be looking into a studying and seeing if it's necessary for what Mansfield looks like in 2035 and 2040.
These are all things that can and should happen to improve the quality of life for Mansfield citizens. We need to start the conversations now.