Candidate wants to lower taxes for Victorians
I have been attending Victoria City Council and county commissioners court meetings for more than 30 years. In those 30 years, I have been speaking and petitioning for fair taxation such as eliminating personal property taxes on automobiles, 5 percent tax limits (Article 4, Section 4 of City Charter), Proposition 13 (tax freeze) and the City Charter amendments.
I am running for City Council because of my deep concern about the "easy come, easy go" policies of the City Council.
Thomas Jefferson warned us about allowing our government the unrestricted power to tax and spend. The law that restricted cities from borrowing money without voter approval was changed. Now, the cities borrow monies and incur debt without going to the voters, giving the cities unrestricted power to incur debt.
Also, with the recent City Charter amendments, the city eliminated (Article 4, Section 4) the 5 percent limit on tax increases when the new charter was written, giving the city unrestricted taxing power.
I was in disbelief when I heard a councilman state, "We have not raised taxes," when the fact is, according to the city financial director at the April 9 council meeting, homeowners' taxes have been increased by 64 percent since 2003. That means a $100,000 home in 2003 is now being taxed at $164,000. Then, the same councilman wrote that he has constantly balanced the budget when the fact is, Victoria's debt has increased by 35 percent, which was stated by the city financial director at the same meeting.
The city's financial director also warned that our AA bond rating was in jeopardy if any more money is spent without a tax increase.
Victoria already has one of the highest tax rates in Texas, if not the highest. Victoria has a long list of wants and needs, such as completion of the downtown projects, renovation of Mallette Drive, historical venues, wastewater treatment plant, residential street renovations, water parks, convention center and the list goes on and on.
To bring attention to this dilemma, I would suggest that at the City Council meetings the city financial director give a financial report before project funding is discussed, assuring the City Council that money is available for its proposed spending.
Victoria has a golden opportunity using the windfall from Eagle Ford Shale and the reserve fund, which could in time bring Victoria to one of the lowest tax rates in Texas by fiscal responsible spending and eliminating our debt. The key to getting out of a financial hole is to stop digging and stop spending money we do not have. Let's start getting Victoria back to financial stability. Having the lowest tax rate in Texas would do more to attract businesses and homeowners than tax abatements.
I will respectfully listen to all Victorians, and I am asking for your vote so I can vote for you.
Russell Pruitt is a candidate for the Victoria City Council District 5 seat. Readers can learn more and contact him at his website pruittforvictoria.com/index.