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City staff proposes small increase in taxes

By DAVID TEWES
Aug. 23, 2010 at 3:23 a.m.


What's next?WHAT: City council meeting

WHEN: 5 p.m., Tuesday

WHERE: Council Chamber at 107 W. Juan Linn St.

WHY: Discuss 2011 budget

Victoria's property tax rate would remain unchanged if a couple of city council members have their way.

"I do not want to see us burden taxpayers with a higher tax rate," Council Member Gabriel Soliz said Monday. "The tax rate is what everybody has to live by at the end of the day."

Council Member David Hagan made a similar comment last week when the council received a copy of the proposed budget that will take effect Oct. 1.

The city's current tax rate is 64.5 cents for each $100 of taxable property value. The staff has proposed raising it to 65 cents, which is still below the effective tax rate of 65.21 cents.

The effective rate would raise about the same income as the previous year, not including new property added to the tax roll.

The 65-cent rate would increase the tax bill on a $100,000 house by about $5, assuming no increase in value, Finance Director Gilbert P. Reyna Jr. said. But he said according to the appraisal district, 50 percent of the residential appraisals when down, 16 percent stayed the same and 34 percent increased.

Soliz said he believes it will be the public's perception that taxes are going up if the city raises the rate to the level proposed by the staff.

In a letter addressed to the council, City Manager Charles Windwehen said the proposed budget is a socially and managerially responsible document.

It notes that funding for 19 positions has been eliminated.

Five positions were cut and the city froze hiring for the remaining 14 positions during the past year. The titles for the frozen positions were not eliminated, but no funding is available.

The spending plan shows $2.3 million in reduced income. Reyna said most of that is $1.8 million in sales tax.

"We're being more realistic," he said. "As a result of the economy, we've got to adjust and adapt to it."

There will be no raises for the city's 600 employees, but there are no plans to raise their insurance premiums.

The city also has been increasing the employees' match for health insurance costs, with a goal of having workers eventually pay 20 percent.

They currently pay 18 percent, and there are no plans to increase that in the upcoming budget year.

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