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Victoria City Council to get first look at austere budget plan

By DAVID TEWES
June 21, 2010 at 1:21 a.m.


Closed Meeting

The city council is also scheduled to meet in closed session to conduct employee evaluations of the city manager, deputy city manager, city secretary and city attorney.

"The evaluations will be in executive session, but there will definitely be an announcement after that," Mayor Will Armstrong said.

Victoria residents would be paying the same or a lower property tax rate under a proposed general fund budget that will go before the city council Tuesday.

It also calls for no employee raises, personnel reductions and a reduction of $16,500 for the transit budget. The general fund would be cut $2.29 million from the current year.

Tuesday's meeting will begin at 2 p.m. at the Council Chamber at 107 W. Juan Linn St.

Mayor Pro Tem Paul Polasek said he is pleased the staff was able to cut the general fund budget.

"I think staff has done a respectable job of being extremely conservative," he said. "This is just the beginning and we've got a lot to discuss."

City Manager Charles Windwehen said the tax rate options include leaving the figure at the current level of 64.5 cents for each $100 of taxable property value. The other option is to cut the rate to 64 cents.

There would be about a $5 difference in the tax bill for a $100,000 house, assuming the appraisal didn't change.

Windwehen is recommending the council leave the rate the same.

"They could have another $155,000 to spend," he said. "My first recommendation would be to go back and buy replacement police cars."

Council Member Gabriel Soliz said he hopes the council will lower the tax rate.

"In a perfect world, it would be nice to bring down the tax rate without affecting the personnel," he said. "But we're going to have to look at a combination of budget restrains and project cuts."

Council Member Tom Halepaska said he would do his best to keep the tax rate level or to lower it.

"You don't want to get too optimistic when you're doing the budget," he said. "If you use rosy numbers, it can hurt you later if you're having problems with the economy."

The new budget won't take effect until Oct. 1 and Halepaska and Soliz said the council would have plenty of time to discuss options.

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