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More tax money may save downtown projects

By Brian Cuaron
Aug. 2, 2011 at 3:02 a.m.


NEW COMMISSION APPOINTEES

The city council approved two new appointees for two commissions. The council will later vote on a resolution that will officially put the people on the commissions.

Gabriel Lopez will replace Dennis Caka on the planning commission. Viola Saenz will replace Susannah Porr on the parks commission.

Increased tax revenue may save infrastructure projects in downtown Victoria from being postponed.

The city would receive $3.21 million more than last year in its general fund due mostly to increases in sales tax and property tax revenues, according to the 2011-12 budget released by Gilbert Reyna Jr., finance director. About $2.87 million of that would come from sales tax rebates.

City staff recommended the city council set a property tax rate of 65 cents per $100 valuation. That would stock the city's coffers with $519,171 - or 2.59 percent - more than last year.

The effective tax rate, or the rate it would take to raise the same amount of tax revenue, was 63.5 cents per $100 valuation, according to an analysis released by Reyna.

The increased property tax revenue would give Victoria enough revenue to fix John Stockbauer Drive without postponing downtown street projects, City Manager Charmelle Garrett said.

Under a plan presented last month, Victoria would postpone some downtown street projects to help pay to repair John Stockbauer Drive.

The John Stockbauer project would make the street capable of withstanding 100,000-pound loads from the coming Caterpillar plant.

Victoria experienced a $59.8 million increase in property values. The commercial sector made up 73.47 percent of that.

Reyna said the increase meant the city's economy is steadily growing.

Garrett also announced that Victoria County wants the city to shoulder more of the fire department's budget. Under the city's contract with the county, he county pays 14.5 percent, or $1.6 million, of the fire department's cost.

However, Judge Don Pozzi has asked for that to be lowered to $1.5 million, Garrett said. He has also asked for a re-negotiation of the contract.

Councilman Tom Halepaska noted that city residents pay county taxes, and wondered why the city should take on an additional burden.

In other budget news, the South Texas Zoological Society asked the city for $150,000 to operate the Texas Zoo. The amount is what the zoo received last year.

And Thomas Yantis, with Keep Victoria Beautiful, said his organization's three neighborhood clean-ups for next year would target the South Laurent Street area, the Krueger neighborhood, and the Laurent Street-Crestwood Drive area.

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