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Majority of Victoria City Council wants lower tax rate

By Brian Cuaron
Aug. 19, 2011 at 3:19 a.m.


IF YOU GO

WHAT: Second budget/tax hearing

WHEN: 5 p.m. Tuesday

WHERE: 107 W. Juan Linn Street

The majority of the Victoria City Council supports giving taxpayers some fiscal relief.

Council members David Hagan, Gabriel Soliz, Joe Truman and Paul Polasek support a tax rate lower than staff's proposed 65-cent rate, which is the current rate.

The city had its first 2011-12 budget hearing on Thursday.

Under the proposed 65 cents per $100 property valuation tax rate, an owner of a $100,000 home would pay $650 in taxes. That would mean about $519,171 more into the city's coffers than last year.

The effective tax rate, which would bring in the same amount of revenue as last year, was 63.5 cents per $100 property valuation. That would cost an owner of a $100,000 home $635 in taxes.

Hagan wanted the property tax rate brought down to the effective rate. Anything higher than that would be a tax increase because of increased property values, he pointed out.

Such a tax increase would be in addition to increased fees for curbside recycling, the household hazardous waste program and the increased water and sewer rates, Hagan said.

Truman and Polasek wanted the property tax rate brought down to 64.5 cents per $100 valuation. Under that proposal, taxes on a $100,000 home would be $645.

That would allow for city projects to get done without taxing residents to the point of oppressiveness, Truman said.

The proposed budget's sales tax revenue estimates were conservative, Polasek said. He also wanted to bring down property taxes slightly over the long-term.

"We have raised taxes significantly every year since I've been on council," said Polasek at Thursday's council meeting on the budget.

Polasek was OK with that since the money was put to good use, he said.

Soliz wanted the tax rate brought down to the effective rate, but was willing to compromise.

He wanted staff to recommend cuts based on tax rates from 63.5 cents to 64.5 cents.

Defending the 65 cent tax rate, Mayor Will Armstrong said the city needed every penny of it to invest into the city's streets.

Armstrong also wanted the city to use the money to annex property north of Main and Navarro streets. The city would have to install water and sewer lines if it did that, he explained.

Councilman Tom Halepaska supported the 65-cent rate, saying the city was behind in infrastructure maintenance.

Councilwoman Denise Rangel has said she is still deciding.

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