New Corpus Christi water director: Eager to raise the standards!

water-blue-cleanCorpus Christi’s newly appointed water director knows a few things about fixing water system woes.

Clarence Wittwer’s career in utilities began more than 25 years ago in Seabrook, Texas, where his first professional memory was climbing into a hole in the street to fix a leaking pipe.

Now he’s been tasked by City Manager Margie Rose to repair a water department that’s become a punchline for Corpus Christi residents and visitors after multiple water quality scares in recent years.

Just don’t tell that to Wittwer. He applied for the job days after the city’s chemical contamination scare in December and considers the city to be home to “some of the best water in the state.”

The city’s recent streak of water quality issues “didn’t deter me too much,” Wittwer said. “Corpus Christi is not alone in that, because it’s an older city with older infrastructure.” Rose announced Wittwer’s appointment Monday, which was also his first day on the job.

While there are infrastructure needs with decades-old pipes in some parts of the city, Wittwer said the city’s system is better off than most.  He pointed to the O.N. Stevens Water Treatment Plant as one of the finest of its kind in Texas and planned improvements like the four elevated storage tanks — two of which are under construction now — as beacons of promise moving forward.

He said a public information campaign is one of his top priorities as the new director to educate residents and visitors on what issues the city is facing and how he plans to address them.

“A boil water notice doesn’t mean there’s a problem. It means there’s a potential issue, but you’re being proactive in protecting the public,” Wittwer said.  That campaign will likely include public meetings, social media outreach and talking directly to the public and in some cases using Facebook Live.  “We’ve got to rebuild the public trust,” he said.

He praised city staff and the City Council for recent efforts to update the city’s backflow prevention rules, and said capital improvement budgets have reflected a coordinated effort to improve the system.

One of his longer-term priorities will be developing an internship program with local high schools, Del Mar College and Texas A&M University- Corpus Christi. The program’s goal would be to train qualified workers to replace a rapidly aging group of workers licensed to work in certain water department roles.

But for now, his focus is fully on the public’s perception of his department.  “My biggest goal is to get this back to not being a joke (to the public),” Wittwer said. “Because I do believe Corpus has some of the best water in the state, and I want the public to see that.”

Matt Woolbright (@reportermatt) 

Tax Time 2016

Your home is likely your largest asset, and therefore, deserves special attention at tax time. Be sure you’re handling them correctly this year, using these tips!

Deduct from the correct year:

Here, we’re billed in arrears on our taxes, which can be confusing when taking the tax deduction. You’ll want to be sure to enter the amount you actually paid in that tax year, no matter what the date on your tax bill says. Because of this, it can be easy to confuse your payments and actually claim the incorrect amount.

Note: If taxes were paid from your escrow account, do not just deduct the amount escrowed. That’s because sometimes the amount you pay from this account can be a little bit higher or a little bit lower. Your lender will align the two to make sure they end up matching.

For example: Your property taxes were $6,000. Your lender collected $5,800. Or, maybe your lender collected $6,200. You’ll deduct $6,000, the actual taxes paid. This number will be the amount noted on your Form 1098.

Deduct your mortgage interest:

A home mortgage interest deduction allows you, the taxpayers who owns your home, to write off any interest you paid on a loan secured by your home (main home or a second home). The loan may be a mortgage, a line of credit, or a home equity loan. This allows you to reduce your taxable income by the amount of interest paid on the loan.

Note: You must file Form 1040 and itemize deductions on Schedule A (Form 1040), and prove your mortgage is a secured debt on a qualified home in which you own.

Exceptions: You cannot deduct mortgage interest on a mortgage that is over $1,000,000, or you have over $100,000 in home equity debt.

Refinanced?

If you’ve refinanced, you’ll be deducting points over the life of your new loan (as opposed to your regular mortgage, where you’ve been deducting points based on what you paid your lender to secure your mortgage over the course of your loan’s life – 15 years, 30 years…)

For example: Let’s say you paid $3,000 in points for a refinance of 30 years. You’ll divide 3,000 by 30 and pay $100 a year.

Went green?

If you made any energy improvements, such as installing solar electric, solar water heater, geothermal, any energy-efficient systems…you may be able to take a 10% tax credit up to a certain dollar amount. However, these are one-time credits. If you claimed your new energy-efficient windows last year, you can’t do it again.

Note: See Form 5695, Residential Energy Credits

Don’t forget to:

  • Keep track of your home-related expenses.
  • Track your capital gains (If you sold your main home last year, you’ll have to pay capital gains taxes on your profit from that sale). Keep your receipts as long as you own the property plus three years.
  • Deduct your home office (If you’re eligible, you can deduct $5 per sq. ft. up to 300 feet, or up to $1,500 a year).
  • Keep your mortgage payoff statements forever. You never know when you may need that proof.
  • Keep your appraisal or valuation used to calculate depreciation as long as you’re the owner plus three years.
  • Keep your property tax payment, year-end mortgage statement, PMI payment, and energy tax credit receipt for three years after the due date of the return showing the deduction.

CC voters face critical sales tax vote in November

KRISTV.com | Continuous News Coverage | Corpus Christi
CORPUS CHRISTI –

Plenty of issues will be in voters’ hands come November, including a pivotal decision on how to spend sales tax revenue.

Depending on the vote, a powerful city board that spends your money, may not exist next year.

An eighth of every cent you pay in sales tax funds the city’s Type A Board, which controls the Type A Fund.

We’re talking millions of dollars a year controlled by five people.

The board spends most of it on economic development. They also spend money on seawall repairs and the American Bank Center.

CLICK HERE: Projects funded by Type A Board

The board (fund) is up for renewal this year, and it’s up to the voters.

Jerry Sansing is president of the Corpus Christi Taxpayers Association. He plans on voting against it.

“I’ve seen too much money go down the drain. You know, we can’t fix streets. We can’t do this. We can’t do that, but we can certainly tax for everything under the sun,” he says.

Sansing would rather the city give that money back to the people, or spend it, in part, to cut down palm trees off Airline. The ones right by the Gulfway Shopping Center.

Sansing says they violate the Americans with Disabilities Act because they take up too much room on the sidewalk, and make it almost impossible for people in wheelchairs to get by.

But Type A Board member Bart Braselton points out the board’s numerous accomplishments, like landing Schlitterbahn with a $5 million deal in incentives.

“It competes with other cities, and when you know, when you’re having somebody that’s bringing say, anywhere from 500 to 1,000 new jobs to your city, the return on investment is incredible,” Braselton says.

Sansing says projects like Schlitterbahn don’t need the money.

Braselton points out other things the Type A Board has helped fund, like the Engineering Department at Texas A&M Corpus Christi, or the truck driving program at Del Mar College.

If residents vote to get rid of the board, it’ll be disbanded after any remaining money is spent.

If that happens, it’ll likely be up to the city council to decide how to re-allocate that portion of sales tax revenue every year.  Via KrisTv.com

Design Trends in 2016

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“This home is so ’70s.” How many times have we heard a home identified by a year based on its appearance and finishes? Well, 2016 will be no different, as fun and fresh designs are sure to be trending.

Outdoors, Indoors

Here on the Island, we practically live outdoors most of the year! Designs are beginning to recognize this. Homeowners are working on bringing the outside in with things like plants, and double doors, and also purchasing furniture that can be used both indoors and out. Create a fluid space where the indoor outdoor living concept is seamless.

Geometric Tiles

Tile backsplashes aren’t a new concept, but what we expect to see in 2016 are using the tiles to create more geometric patterns that feature fluid movement. New materials for this are coming onto the scene such as cement and wood. Whether it is a backsplash, an intricately patterned floor or a countertop, fluid geometry is eye-catching and coming in strong this year.

White Appliances

With so many homeowners going with the trending white cabinets, white appliances just blend right in. Also, many are becoming tired of the maintenance from the marks and handprints that are so evident and inevitable that show up on stainless steel appliances. Try Ice White from Whirlpool. Slate kitchen appliances can also bring a classic and modern look and are gaining momentum.

Metallics, Metals, and Minerals

All trends come back around, and the 1950s and 1970s are hot fashion trends in 2016, and this will also translate to the home. Gold and metallic finishes are exceedingly popular right now. Retro bling, shine, and polished geodes will rock your home (pun intended). Accessorize with oversized bowls of fools gold, big chunks of quartz, or even unpolished semi-precious stones turned into door pulls. Go au natural!

Chevron is Out

Herringbone, Chevron, Zig-Zag, the fun and often colorful pattern was so 2015. If you are still a fan of it, try putting it in easily removable ways, such as an area rug or throw blanket. Don’t stick it up on a large wall. Instead, try solid-colored, textured fabrics, or even animal hide is in!

Bye Brass

Brass hardware is one design element that almost immediately outdates a home. Hardware is one incredibly easy and inexpensive way to update! To replace brass hardware or other knobs, be sure to choose a size that will cover the “footprint” of whatever is currently installed. For 2016, try brushed or satin nickel hardware. Magic.

Fake Wall Treatments

Solids are back. 2016 interior design approaches emphasize authenticity. The prevalent use of natural materials (back to minerals, above) goes back to midcentury modern design. That means it may be time to get rid of the fake wall treatments such as Tuscan paint finishes and marbled columns. Use a solid paint! It’s chic, clean, and IN.

How to Rid Those Summertime Pests

Pest-NoBugsSignThey fly, crawl, bite, invade and annoy! And the word is that this summer, they’re coming in larger numbers due to the increased rain we’ve received this spring.

The cockroaches are sneakier, the fire ants are terrorizing from their sandy mounds, the ticks hide in unmentionable places, and the mosquitoes are the size of small hummingbirds. Then of course, with lots of rain, comes lots of pretty flowers with lots of buzzing bees!

Here are some tips to still enjoy the summertime, spend time outside, and not end up itching, burning, screaming, and picking.

  1. First and most effective is to have your local pest control company come and spray your yard and home. Then when your landscapers come, ask them to blow the dead ones away.
  2. On that note, be sure to keep your yard maintained and cut regularly, as insects will lay eggs in your lawn.
  3. Clean your house and reduce any clutter. This gives them places to hide. Cockroaches in particular will be drawn to food in your pantry or pet food. Keep those items tightly sealed.
  4. Check your screens. Even the smallest of holes is equivalent to a fancy written invitation to a pest to enter.
  5. Get rid of outdoor lights. If you do need them, use yellow lights. The bugs are less attracted to those.
  6. Check your yard for standing water, which is the perfect breeding ground for mosquitoes, among other insects. Eliminate any standing water you do find.
  7. Plant onions in your garden. They HATE onions!
  8. Keep your trash covered or taken our regularly. Need I explain more?
  9. Use a Eucalyptus-based repellent or just plain old Eucalyptus essential oil (Walmart sells this) and rub it on your exposed skin. The bugs will stay far away from you.
  10. Don’t forget about your pets! Treat them and give them their monthly doses of flea and tick meds. Not only do we want them to be protected, but they provide a first-class ticket for these insects into your home.

Enjoy this amazing time of year, and don’t be bugged by the bugs!