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Advocate editorial board opinion: Invest in much-needed projects to fuel economy

Aug. 8, 2011 at 3:08 a.m.


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WHAT: Victoria City Council hearings on next year's budget

WHERE: 107 W. Juan Linn St., in the council chamber

WHEN:

Aug. 18: Public hearing and first reading.

Aug. 30: Public hearing and second reading.

Sept. 6: Public hearing and final reading.

Sales tax revenues and property tax evaluations are on the rise in Victoria.

That's the sign of a solid economy and evidence the city's investments of recent years are paying off. The Victoria City Council should consider first how to fuel continued growth as it sets its 2012 budget.

The finance director projects the city will receive $3.2 million more than last year, mainly from increased property and sales tax collections.

In budget hearings scheduled during the next month, council members will consider where to set the tax rate, keeping in mind the delicate balance between easing the burden on taxpayers and investing in work that will advance the city's economy.

The city is in the enviable position of being able to keep the tax rate the same and still being able to invest in much-needed street, water and sewer work. High on the city's list are upgrading John Stockbauer Drive and completion of downtown improvements.

The city estimates it can accomplish both important projects by keeping the tax rate the same. That's a prudent course of action.

The city should be congratulated for its work in recent years on Laurent Street, Sam Houston Drive and downtown. This work - coupled with the public's investment in new schools, a fine arts center and a natatorium - is changing the face of Victoria.

These are exciting times to live in Victoria. The opening of the Caterpillar plant next year near John Stockbauer Drive is expected to further the mini-boom created by oil and gas drilling. The city should do all it can to keep up the momentum.

Some will argue the city should lower its tax rate and delay this investment. While this sentiment is understandable given the high federal tax burden, local taxes are small by comparison and yield the biggest, most direct dividends.

The city allowed itself to get much too far behind with street work in years gone by. The sorry state of Sam Houston Drive before construction started illustrates this point.

The coming decade promises to be glorious times for Victoria as its economic engine roars in ways not seen since the 1960s. The city council is not the only driver of the economy, but now is not the time to step on the brakes.

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