Victoria City Council agrees to lower tax increase

By Brian M. Cuaron - BCUARON@VICAD.COM
Aug. 30, 2011 at 3:30 a.m.

Victoria City Council members stood firm in their commitment to lowering the property tax rate from the proposed 65 cents for every $100 worth of property.

The council voted to approve a 64.5-cent property tax rate and the budget for 2011-12 on Tuesday.

"There's been significant tax increases year after year due to the (property) evaluation side getting corrected as they should be," Councilman Paul Polasek said.

Polasek and three other council members - Gabriel Soliz, Denise Rangel and Joe Truman - all originally supported lowering the tax rate from the proposed rate.

Staff had proposed the 65-cent rate, which would charge $100,000 homeowners $650.

However, the city came to a consensus at its last meeting to lower it to 64.5 cents per $100 in property values. So a $100,000 homeowner would be charged $645.

Anything above the effective tax rate of 63.5 cents per $100 in property values is considered a tax increase, according to the Texas comptroller's office.

Mayor Will Armstrong and Councilman Tom Halepaska tried to convince the council to go with the 65-cent rate.

Armstrong referenced an executive session that lasted more than an hour when arguing for the 65-cent rate. Soliz wanted the effective rate but said that the closed session also affected his vote.

Victoria Police Department Chief Jeff Craig left with the council as they went into executive session right after the meeting began.

Polasek and Rangel said additional sales tax revenue would allow city projects to continue despite the reduced tax rate. Halepaska said sales tax funds are generally not used for recurring funds.

City Manager Charmelle Garrett noted that some sales tax revenue was relied on as recurring funds.

Armstrong joined Halepaska in the vote for the 64.5-cent rate after Halepaska said he didn't want to be left with Councilman David Hagan against the measure. Hagan was also the lone dissenter against the 2011-12 budget.

Hagan, who wanted the effective tax rate, said, "We're raising taxes when folks have less money to spend."



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