Public gets chance to comment on tax rate proposal

  • What's nextTuesday's city council vote on the budget proposal will be the first of three.

    Other votes and public hearings are scheduled for Sept. 9 and Sept. 14.

Victoria residents will get a chance Tuesday to let the city council know what they think about the proposed property tax rate and budget.

The council will conduct the first public hearing on both in its 5 p.m. meeting in the Council Chamber at 107 W. Juan Linn St.

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.

A 65-cent rate would increase the tax bill on a $100,000 house about $5, assuming no increase in value.

Mayor Pro Tem Paul Polasek said he's had a chance to review the proposed budget and noticed the staff has already cut spending by several million dollars.

"I'm leaning toward taking the staff recommendation," said Polasek, who has pushed in the past to lower the tax rate. "I'm asking my fellow council members to strongly consider the staff recommendation."

He said while appraised values have increased in previous years and that has increased the city's income, that money has been used for such necessary services as road improvements.

Council Member Joe Truman said he supports Polasek and commended the staff for making difficult cuts.

"I don't want to make any cuts on the roads," he said. "I mean that's the road to perdition."

Truman said he's seen nothing frivolous in the spending plan and if anyone does, he'd like to know about it.

Council Member Gabriel Soliz said he'd like to see the fund balance increased so there's enough money to cover city operations for close to three months in the event of a disaster.

He said he doesn't consider the property tax a stable source of income because some of the commercial appraisals are being challenged and could be lowered. A higher fund balance would help cover that, Soliz said.

City Manager Charles Windwehen has stated in a letter to the council he believes the proposed budget is a fiscally responsible spending plan.

"I don't want to start going backward," he said. "I want to be able to accommodate and facilitate growth if we start getting more jobs here."

That will mean building and improving roads and making similar improvements, he said.

Caterpillar has announced it will invest $120 million to $150 million to build a manufacturing plant in Victoria that will create 500 jobs.