Victoria County tax rate unchanged, but will bring in more revenue

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Aug. 27, 2012 at 3:27 a.m.
Updated Aug. 28, 2012 at 3:28 a.m.

Victoria County's homeowners will not pay more in taxes if their appraised values did not increase this year.

County commissioners voted 4-1 Monday to leave the current tax rate unchanged, 39.86 cents for every $100 of assessed taxable property value.

The next step in the budget process is to hold three public hearings on the rate.

Commissioner Gary Burns proposed lowering the rate to the effective rate.

The effective rate, the level that would produce about the same amount of income as the previous year, is 37.06 cents.

"We're in the middle of some boom times," he said. "Let's shift the burden from property tax to sales tax."

Setting the tax rate higher than the effective rate produces more revenue. Property taxes account for about half of the general fund income.

Lowering the tax rate to the effective rate would save owners of a $100,000 home about $2.80. The average homestead value in Victoria County is $117,336.

Lowering to the effective tax rate would increase the budget by $191,552.

The calculation is still preliminary until the final budget hearing Sept. 17.

County Judge Don Pozzi said since 2008 the county has not recovered from cuts to personnel, benefits and pay.

"I learned a long time ago if you live by the sales tax, you die by the sales tax," he said.

He called Burns' proposal "admirable."

"Any time taxes can be reduced, we'd like to avail ourselves to those opportunities," he said. "At the same time, we continue to have to run county government."

Burns said the county's increased tax base gives the court an opportunity to lower the tax burden on home owners.

"I'm confident after talking to oil companies that this increase will continue," he said. "We're way above on our sales tax. We have some capital improvements we will have to meet and I think our money is there."

Commissioner Clint Ives made motion to accept the tax rate and Commissioner Kevin Janak seconded it.

Ives said he wants to take "a more conservative approach" and consider lowering the rate next year.

"It can be gone overnight," he said. "They all tell us it's here for the next 10 years, that same song and dance was made in the 1980s and it was gone in a weekend."

Janak said he, too, wants to consider it next year, after new development is on the tax roll.



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