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Victoria City Council barely adopts tax rate, budget

By DAVID TEWES
Sept. 14, 2010 at 4:14 a.m.


WHAT IT MEANSThe 65 cent tax rate will increase the tax bill on a $100,000 house $5, assuming no change in value.

Only 16 percent of homes had no change in value.

About 51 percent went down in value and 33 percent increased.

Victoria has a new budget and property tax rate, although the decision to approve both was by a single vote.

The city council voted 4-3 Tuesday to adopt the budget and tax rate, both of which go into effect Oct. 1. Opposed were council members David Hagan, Joe Truman and Gabriel Soliz.

"This is a good budget," Council Member Tom Halepaska said. "It's lean enough."

But Hagan disagreed and proposed an amendment to shift funds around in the $160 million budget. He said that would allow the city to keep the tax rate at 64.5 cents for each $100 of property value instead of approving the staff proposal of 65 cents.

The rate proposed by staff and approved Tuesday is still below the effective rate of 65.21 cents, or the amount that would bring in about the same income as the previous year.

"I just feel like we're in a double-dip recession," Hagan said. "In my way of thinking, we should let the taxpayers keep every dime."

Hagan's plan would have used $136,000 from the reserve fund to keep the lower tax rate. City Manager Charles Windwehen said that's money that can be used for capital improvements, which will be discussed next month.

"There are a lot of needs we deferred in this budget," he said. "The more you cut today, the harder it will be to do those in the future."

Mayor Pro Tem Paul Polasek said spending fund balance money for operations is a bad idea. He said that's a non-recurring income that will be spent on recurring expenses.

"It's tempting to do that," Polasek said. "But that's our savings account."

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