Victoria council to consider public hearings on budget, tax rate

Sonny Long

Aug. 5, 2012 at 3:05 a.m.
Updated Aug. 6, 2012 at 3:06 a.m.

The Victoria city council is expected to decide Tuesday when to set public hearings on the proposed 2012-13 budget and tax rate.

Tuesday's agenda includes a resolution calling for an Aug. 28 public hearing on the proposed $130 million operating budget and the proposed effective tax rate of 60.56 cents per $100 valuation.

That rate compares to the current rate of 64.5 cents per $100 valuation.

By definition, the effective tax rate generates the same amount of revenue as the past year's rate.

City Councilman Joe Truman said he was happy with the way the budget process went this year.

"This has been one of the smoothest and most productive budget cycles I have gone through. I am very proud of the work the team at the city of Victoria did to bring the tax rate in at the effective tax rate," Truman said.

"We have benefited from an increase in sales tax revenues that allows for this reduction in property tax rate. We cannot rely on this every year, but it is nice to reap the benefits of it this year."

Emett Alvarez, going through his first budget process as a city councilman, also was pleased.

"I thought the process went very well," Alvarez said. "The departments laid out their plans in a very methodical way.

"We were able to work through some of the areas we had issues with, like compensation. With a lot of hard work by the city manager and her staff, we were able to adjust to those issues," he said.

Truman also noted the work done on employee compensation.

"We have finally addressed and hopefully resolved the much needed pay structure for our valued city employees," he said. "We are able to fund these raises and still continue infrastructure improvements at a steady rate. All this and still come in at the effective tax rate, I am truly amazed and proud of the city's staff."

Eight-year city councilman Tom Halepaska also acknowledged the work that went into the budget and keeping the tax rate down.

"This budget process has been as smooth as it has ever been," he said. "I commend the staff. We've gone through it carefully during numerous work sessions. We will continue to go through it and ask questions.

"The public will also get their input," Halepaska said. "This is the formalizing of all those work sessions."

Halepaska said he is also pleased that the proposed budget addresses additional funding for street repairs and increasing the city's reserve fund.

Alvarez said that although he is in favor of the proposed effective tax rate, he is also open to the possibility of going to somewhere between the 60.56 proposed rate and the current 64.5 tax rate.

"If we go through the capital improvement projects more thoroughly and tweak them some, there may be a need to go up a little bit, but still keep it below the current rate," Alvarez said. "I'm open for discussion."

Halepaska agreed that the budget must address the city's needs.

"I've always tried to take an even-handed approach," he said. "We're way behind on so many things, but we've also got to watch the tax rate.

"It's a good budget. It's a fair budget. I am cautiously optimistic it will go through."



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