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Dawson Neighborhood

Dawson Neighborhood’s Community Website

Lower Your Taxes – Protest Your Property Assessment

UPDATE: After you read this, check out our new 2015 article on lowering your taxes!

Filing a tax protest (actually, protesting your property assessment) online using eFile is just getting launched in a big way this year. It had been available to a limited number for the last few years. Once the program is established, the offer you get back from them online (is it by email?) *IS* the informal ARB hearing. If you decline that offer, then the formal ARB hearing at TCAD is the next step. They’re working out the bugs so they’re letting people drop out of eFile so they can also have an informal ARB hearing this year. It’s temporary.

You cannot use eFile and have a tax preparer (ProTax, etc.) represent you – at the same time. A tax preparer is a low-risk way of improving your chances for lowering your taxes. If you sign on with a tax preparer before the filing deadline, you can’t use eFile after that. However, and this is a bit of a confusing point, if you decide to use eFile, and refuse the eFile offer, you MAY then have a tax preparer represent you at the formal ARB hearing. However, tax preparers may not have the resources to take you on at that time, and they don’t have to take any customers whose odds are poor for a successful reassessment.

I’d encourage folks to go with a tax preparer. They make it even easier than signing up for eFile. They know all the angles, and how to compellingly present your property’s condition to TCAD. They’ll use pictures and repair estimates and whatever else you give them. Have a chat with some of them before the yearly deadline. If they don’t seem eager to take you on, this tells you that they’re looking at your numbers, but not seeing a good opportunity to earn their commission. Start with ProTax. They appear in person at TCAD ARBs to represent their clients individually. They have the highest success rate, possibly because they decline doubtful opportunities. Another firm may still take you on. It’ll save you a lot of paperwork, and one or more trips to TCAD early on a work day morning.

If you’re good with face-to-face presentations, file manually. You’ll have the most success at the informal ARB where you’ll sit down with just one person, and s/he has the leeway to help you quite a bit.

Filing by eFile may be little more than the easiest way to send a message to the County that you don’t like your taxes, but it’s also quick and painless. You can still retrieve your Evidence Packet and send photos, documents, letters describing your reasoning, etc. You can do most everything from the comfort of home, at 3 AM, in your bathrobe. =)

Here’s that page I slapped together with explanations about the process, links, TCAD contact info, etc.:

http://www.dawsonneighborhood.org/h/taxprotest.html

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Dog Days of Dawson Are Here!

Our neighbors are doing it, let’s show Austin how our flag flies! What’s the best way to get a BYOB BBQ or block party going? Who knows someone who can scare up a few good bands? Any local artists want to show their crafts to a new season of sparkling, smiling eyes? Does anyone recommend some good local chow? Who likes to throw dinner parties? Movie nights?

UPDATE – See ya at Gillis Park, on Saturday from 12-4 for the picnic!

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Seeking Volunteers

The Ass’n meeting is coming up on the 9th, and I would like to get the surviving 22 signs put up around Dawson’s perimeter. We have specific sites where merchants and residents have given us permission to place them. I’m pressed for time, as I’m working out of town thu and fri nights, and need to sleep in. I’d like the signs up while there is still weekday traffic so they get seen by the most eyes. Does anyone have the opportunity to put up some signs today, tomorrow, or join me to put them up this weekend? Thanks in advance!

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Throwing Away Any Computers?

Bulk collection begins on Monday 9th for us in the South end of Dawson. It looks like this schedule includes most of our surrounding neighborhoods:

City Bulk Collection Schedule (.pdf)

I want to raise a flag that I collect obsolete computers for parts, refurbishment and donation. Don’t put your PC out on the curb! Give me a call and I will pick it up any time starting this weekend. Your trash is my treasure, as they say… My aim is to keep these things out of the landfill and properly dispose of what cannot be re-used. =)

I take unneeded items to Goodwill Computer Works, and they hand them off to Dell for proper recycling. You can donate your items to Goodwill, or any thrift store, really, but I provide one additional service which they don’t. Every PC I buy in a thrift store is typically filled with the former owner’s email, contact lists, photos, financial documents, web cache, VIRUSES, etc. It’s really eye-popping what is left right where the owner last used them. The PC I bought yesterday had everything dragged to trash, but they didn’t empty it! (Nice try, I thought to myself.) SO- any hard drive I acquire gets it’s windows license backed up, then it gets wiped clean during defect testing. After this, files would require a 3-letter government agency to recover. The hard drive is re-formatted and windows is re-installed from scratch. If your hard drive is not stone dead, I can wipe it while you watch, before I load the PC into my car. Stone dead hard drives get pried open for their nifty magnets. More details on my website:

http://chadvanderlinden.info/recycle.html

Please email me or leave me a message at the phone number on my site. I will be working nights, out of town, Thu and Fri, and possibly a night or two next week, but i’ll be around all weekend and the rest of the week.

[My apologies if this post sounds like an ad to anyone. There is no charge whatsoever.]

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Volunteer to put up Ass’n Meeting Signs!

Hi folks, the bi-monthly Assn. meeting is less than one week away, and I will be putting up the signs as soon as I find volunteer(s) to help me! I would like to get this done quickly, while the soil is moist, and the signs will go in the ground easily. I already have a list of merchants where we have permission to put the signs, so you won’t have to hunt for spaces. If we split up, one of us taking Congress and Ben White, with the other taking South 1st and Oltorf, we should be done in a half hour. Then, I would be honored to treat you to a light dinner at Torchy’s, or ???

A couple of folks who live in the interior of the ‘hood will get a sign for their yard, in recognition of their contributions to the neighborhood, but the rest are needed on the perimeter streets. 25 signs don’t cover as much ground as I wish they did, and at $10.28/ea (or often much more!), it would take another big push to acquire them.

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Signs for DNA Meetings

Original Text of Fundraiser:

Jan 28: DNA hasn’t posted signs to announce upcoming meetings for many years now. They don’t have a treasury or budget, and rely on local merchants (Crow Bar, Summermoon, Sage Coffee) to pay the printing bill for the newsletter on their behalf.

At the time that NextDoor came to our attention, Dawson Neighborhood was not represented there. There were three new neighborhoods mapped out over the area which Dawson exists in. The three group Founders who wanted to bring their neighbors together, and folks who had joined over the previous year, simply didn’t know Dawson Neighborhood already existed! In other words, the established representative body, called the DNA, were so low on everyone’s radar, that some folks were literally thinking “hey, let’s get a neighborhood association going!”. This, despite the bi-monthly newsletters, though these don’t reach many apartment and condo dwellers, who are a rapidly growing majority of Dawson’s population.

We seek to take the first steps to remedy this “invisibility” by providing the DNA with signs for their bi-monthly meetings.

I’ve requested quotes from 19 local sign makers. I would like to raise exactly $200 to purchase 25 single sided 24×18″ corrugated plastic (coroplast) signs from North Loop Signs. This is the minimum order for this price point, and is an awesome deal over all others I’ve found.

I initially started a drive in the DNA Yahoo Group to get signs. Our effort lost cohesion after one individual offered to provide 5 signs. He has since completely withdrawn his offer, and stated that he will not be participating in any other effort to raise money or provide signs. Now that we are on our own, it is all the more important that we come through for the Neighborhood!

Disclosure: Funds collected go to the account of my PC repair business. I’ll open my “books” to anyone who wishes to confirm that I am handling money properly. Upon reaching or exceeding the $200 goal, the button will be removed/deactivated, and any surplus will be refunded to whoever donated earliest, upon their request, through the end of February.

I am also looking for volunteers to help me put up signs, most likely Fri 07 /Sat 08. I’ve got the cedar allergies very bad this year, and I shouldn’t be outside. I’ll do this regardless, and look forward to seeing you at the DNA meeting the second Monday of February!

Here’s what the signs will look like, the space after “This Monday,” is for putting different dates on adhesive sheets:

Jan 29: DNA President Myron Smith asks that I clarify they are not sponsoring any fundraiser for the signs. There is no official association between this fundraiser and the Dawson Neighborhood Association. However, they know we are providing signs. In face-to-face discussion, we agreed to each add a sticker to half of the signs stating “Signs sponsored by…” to make it clear that Nextdoor and dawsonneighborhood.org are not the sponsors of the meeting itself. Myron texted me the next day, saying she was busy and directed me to do them all myself.

Donations for the Dawson Neighborhood Association Meeting Signs

MISSION ACCOMPLISHED!!!!!

Feb 3: Thanks to everyone who came together to make this a successful venture! In all, $254.60 was raised (after PayPal fees). The signs were ordered Monday morning, Feb 3, and should be ready to pick up by Thu Feb 6. The order was slightly different from earlier expectations; 25 single-sided, 24″ X 18″ corrugated plastic signs with H-stakes came to a grand total of $257.09 with taxes. The text of the sign will now be adhesive vinyl instead of screen printed. North Loop Sign agreed to provide the more expensive vinyl signs for the price originally quoted for the screen printed ones, and sold us 25 stakes at $1/ea instead of $2.50. They have our sincere appreciation.

Below is the PayPal activity report for all donations received. You may click on it for full-sized view:

Feb 3: I have already paid for the signs. Once I receive the Invoice, I will add it here!

Feb 6: The signs have been picked up, I just need to attach the date and some identification to them, then I’ll be hitting the pavement looking for space!

Here is the invoice:

Feb 8: Here is a BatchGeo Map showing where our signs were placed. You can click the icons to see the name of the business and the name of the authorizing manager there. This could be useful when returning to plant signs each 2 months.

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DNA to vote on Ban Against Parking On Grass

For the folks who are not members of the DNA Yahoo Group, this issue is being discussed in the Yahoo group today, and is one which the City asks DNA to vote on every year. It’s always been voted down, but It keeps coming back. I suspect the City would like it banned, but we’ve been too laid-back about it to agree. It will be voted upon this Monday, 10th. Please attend to vote on it! Anyone who operates a business, lives within, or owns property within Dawson Neighborhood can vote on whatever comes up at any DNA meeting they attend (but someone tell me if this is a DNPCT issue; voting eligibility is different; but I think they just do land use/construction matters).

Some of the pro-ban examples have run along the extremes of things; lawns full of junk cars, loud automotive work going on early in the morning right on property lines, visual appeal of cars not parked neatly upon paved driveways. I’ll let the ban supporters elaborate, since i’m on the other side. Also, I wonder if some of these examples stem from some neighborly feuds…

Here on my block, I think *everyone* has cars parked side-by-side, over the edge of their driveways and upon the grass. I can think of a number of folks nearby who have RVs parked alongside their houses. Yes, close to the property line, but who is it hurting? I’ve no problem with neighbors who have some bare patches on their lawn. None of my business. The drought did far worse to the grass. I’d consider an RV parked between houses to be a good thing; it provides more privacy by blocking the view, right? We’re tolerant of the noise caused in the mornings by the welding and auto shops surrounding us (but not of the power surges that lock my computer up… grrrr).

So my contribution to the Yahoo discussion, before my posts stopped showing up, was that banning yard parking is the wrong approach to what really sounds like a noise issue (in that particular example). It’s a “nuclear option” that will hurt more people than would benefit.

My second example, which was censored, was that we’d rather park both of our vehicles side-by-side, closer to the house and motion-sensitive flood lights. One of our cars has been broken into twice in the last 3 years. They were going to steal it; they’d moved our trash cans aside in order to quietly coast the car down the hill. The thieves abandoned the car when the steering column locked. If we had to park our cars one behind another, that would leave one of them “parked-in”, too. Lots of people would likewise be inconvenienced by being parked in and hunting for keys and family members to move their cars around. Also, Sonja, who is my landlady, walks with assistance. It would mean a much longer walk for her to carry groceries. Lastly, it would block a wide swath of the view our security camera has. I feel confident that there’s no reason my post should have been censored. I’m thankful there’s more than one tightly controlled venue for the neighborhood to discuss things in.

So I’m bringing this topic up for the benefit of our neighbors not in the loop with Yahoo, and so the discussion can include perfectly decent points which are being edited for content in the other discussion group. What are the feelings of the rest of us, on both sides of this issue of yard parking?

I encourage anyone aware of other issues being discussed or voted on at the DNA meeting to bring those up too; please start a separate topic for it.

(I ask that we not digress into our grievances with individuals, the Yahoo Group or DNA, those are other issues entirely, and need to be conducted without making personal attacks.)

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Welcome

sitebannerNeighbors, this is YOUR website! News, features and  announcements are submitted by you. DNO provides a representative picture and voice for the neighborhood in return. We’ve been bringing all our neighbors together, censorship-free since we launched on January 16, 2014!

This website provides all kinds of local civic information and occasional Dawson-specific news. Our more frequent posts on Facebook, G+, Twitter and other social networks have a wider scope – anything that might be of interest to our neighbors. Follow ’em all! Explore the menu bar at the top. Make a post in the Forum to discuss anything (it’s also a mailing list), and the Chat Room is for live group conversations. Click for more info about us: (more…)

Our Latest Tweets

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Upcoming Events

Every Weekday: So60+ Social Group at Durwood Senior Center, 2508 Durwood Street. Daily Schedule Here.

Be sure to look in the right hand column of this page for the next three events on our calendar. Full calendar HERE.

Six times yearly: Dawson Neighborhood Ass’n Meetings, second Monday of each even-numbered month (Feb, Apr, Jun, Aug, Oct, Dec) at 6:30 PM, 2508 Durwood St.

Don’t see your event here? Send it in to us!

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