Victoria City Council almost votes down budget

Brian Cuaron

Aug. 18, 2011 at 3:18 a.m.

A proposed 2011-12 budget was in jeopardy at its first reading for a while Thursday when three council members objected to the proposed tax rate that would support the budget.

Council members David Hagan, Gabriel Soliz and Joe Truman voted against the proposed 2011-12 budget on first vote. With Councilwoman Denise Rangel absent from the meeting, this could have prevented the budget from passing on the first of its three readings.

If the initial vote held, it would have interrupted the calendar when the budget would be voted on and passed.

"Mr. Truman, you're voting against the budget?" asked Mayor Will Armstrong.

Truman responded that he would like more work done on the budget. He had mostly remained silent during the budget's public hearing.

Hagan and Soliz had voiced objections to the proposed property tax rate, which would stay at 65 cents per $100 valuation. Under that plan, taxes on a home valued at $100,000 would be $650.

In defense of the budget, Armstrong called that a bargain and said it would allow the city to catch up on its infrastructure maintenance. Halepaska said the city was behind in its maintenance.

The effective tax rate, which would bring in the same revenue as last year, was 63.5 cents per $100 property valuation. Under that plan, residents owning a $100,000 home would pay $635, or $15 less than the proposed rate.

Rangel, who was absent because of family obligations, said via phone that the 65-cent rate would be helpful, but her mind wasn't made up.

City Manager Charmelle Garrett also defended the budget and said the 1.5-cent difference would allow the city to pay for construction on John Stockbauer Drive without postponing downtown projects.

Armstrong said there was plenty of time to object, but that the council must remain on schedule.

Normally, only the winning side can call for a re-vote, said Thomas Gwosdz, city attorney. But Truman joined Armstrong, Halepaska and Polasek in suspending the rule for a re-vote.

Hagan said he would vote against the budget again since he disagreed with the tax rate.

Hagan was the lone no vote in the re-vote of the budget, with Soliz changing his vote along with Truman.



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