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Victoria councilman 'flubs' tax rate vote

By Melissa Crowe
Sept. 5, 2013 at 4:05 a.m.


Next Meeting

• WHEN: 5 p.m. Tuesday

• WHERE: Council Chambers, 107 W. Juan Linn St.

• FOR MORE INFO: victoriatx.org

BY THE NUMBERS

• Proposed tax rate: 59.96 cents per $100 property valuation

• An owner of a $100,000 home would owe $599.60 in city taxes if the rate is approved Tuesday.

• Current tax rate: 60.56 cents per $100 property valuation

An owner of a $100,000 home paid $605.60 in city taxes this year.

• Effective tax rate: 56.92 cents per $100 property valuation

• An owner of a $100,000 home would owe $569.20 in city taxes if this rate is approved Tuesday.

SOURCE: CITY OF VICTORIA

A Victoria city councilman blames being "lost in thought" for the unanimous vote on the tax rate Thursday night.

"I was thinking about something and just flubbed it," Councilman David Hagan said.

Hagan initially said he wanted to see the tax rate lowered to bring in the same amount of tax revenue as the current year.

From across the dais, Councilman Jeff Bauknight asked for a solution to get there.

"If we don't have ideas of what to cut that we can discuss, then it's nothing but a statement - there's no solution there," Bauknight said after the meeting.

While Hagan suggested cutting the proposed fire station on the Ball Airport Road extension, Bauknight called it "an easy target."

"I don't think you can tell the residents that they don't get ambulance and fire service as quick as everybody else in the city because we're not going to pay for it," he said.

Hagan compared the city's budget to a home budget - "you figure out a way to live within the budget you have."

While he did not sit down with staff to discuss how to get to the lower tax rate, Bauknight said he met with city staff for several hours outside of City Council meetings to work out solutions to the budget.

Hagan said, "There's no way they're going to waste their time, sit there and plow through things" for one person.

Mayor Paul Polasek said he was surprised by Hagan's change in vote.

He could have met with city staff to work out a solution, Polasek said.

"Council members should attempt to convince each other of their decisions," Polasek said. "Tell me why I'm wrong. That's good debate."

Polasek said this year's tax rate - which makes up about a third of the city's budget - will pay for raises for police officers and road projects.

"There's a lot in there the public has asked for," Polasek said.

Hagan said he plans to make his final vote Tuesday evening against the proposed tax rate.

He pointed out "the amount of concern" for his perspective, "given I'm one individual who does not have the support to have the effective tax rate."

However, as Polasek asked for the vote on the proposed tax rate, Hagan raised his hand and said "aye."

Bauknight is confident the proposed tax rate will pass its final vote.

"Everybody's, hopefully, done that due diligence," Bauknight said. "That's why it must have been unanimous tonight."

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