Victoria City Council poised to lower tax rate

Melissa Crowe By Melissa Crowe

Aug. 22, 2013 at 3:22 a.m.

Although property values have increased, Victoria homeowners can expect some relief at the hands of Victoria City Council.

The council is positioning itself to lower the tax rate but must agree by Sept. 10 on how low it can go.

Councilman Tom Halepaska, who views taxes as the fuel that keeps the city running, said he wants to keep the pace steady.

He proposed lowering the rate to 60.1 cents per $100 valuation. The current rate is 60.56 cents.

The owner of a $100,000 home would owe $601 under Halepaska's plan.

Councilmen Andrew Young and Emett Alvarez agreed.

However, Mayor Paul Polasek said he wants to see the budget trimmed even further to fit a tax rate of 59.5 cents per $100 valuation.

Under Polasek's plan, the owner of a $100,000 home would owe $595.

Even though the rate is lower, the city would take in about 6 percent more that it did this year under Polasek's plan, said Finance Director Gilbert Reyna.

Reyna said the lower rate would bring in $771,000 more than last year's $12.9 million on the general fund side.

While Halepaska argued that Polasek's proposal could mean delaying much-needed residential street projects, the mayor disagreed.

For 2014, the City Council is looking at building the Ball Airport Road extension as well as a new fire station. Increases to personnel, across-the-board raises and equipment needs are also included.

"We have done a tremendous amount of work," Polasek said. "...We owe the public a little something. Even if it may be marginal to some people, we can achieve all our objectives with that tax rate."

Councilman Jeff Bauknight said he support's Polasek's proposal.

"We are increasing the budget," he said. "We're a growing city."

Young said he wanted to see Halepaska's plan take action.

"We have a lot of needs," he said. "We need to get some stuff done, and it takes money - that's the bottom line."



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