Advocate Editorial Board opinion: Take care of projects while economy is good
By the Advocate Editorial Board
June 29, 2013 at 1:29 a.m.
Determining tax rates is always a tough topic. Obviously, government needs tax money to function and deliver the services communities need, but how much is enough?
The Victoria City Council is examining this question once again just as they do this time every year. At the previous meeting, city staff members presented the second half of a budget with a tax rate of 60.50 cents per $100 valuation, which is slightly lower than the current tax rate of 60.56 cents. While the rate itself may be lower, taxes are still likely to increase for those whose homes were appraised at higher values this year by the Victoria Central Appraisal District. Members of the City Council, including Mayor Paul Polasek, Tom Halepaska and Josephine Soliz, are asking for information on reducing the tax rate even more, and Councilman David Hagan wants to drop it down to the effective tax rate of about 57.57 cents.
We understand the council's concerns in this delicate situation. One of the responsibilities of government is to balance the needs of the citizens with the taxes collected. No matter how low taxes are set, there will always be those who say the government is taking too much. However, the City Council also has a responsibility to maintain Victoria's infrastructure and other systems, which requires money.
Victoria's infrastructure, particularly the city's streets, is improving bit by bit, but there is still a lot of work to do. Street repair is a never-ending process that requires constant investment. Some of the major streets in town have already been repaved, but there are still many residential neighborhoods and other areas that desperately need attention.
Unfortunately, street repairs are not cheap, and they get more expensive every year. Cutting back the city's budget and delaying these much-needed projects, especially during a time of economic growth and prosperity, is not a good decision. We need to use the current boom to repair our city's streets and infrastructure while the funding is available. If the city chooses to put these projects on the back burner, we will only delay the inevitable and exacerbate the problem. If we take advantage of the current circumstances, we can create a more stable community with the ability and flexibility to cut taxes in later years when these needs have been addressed.
The reality of these needs shows a hasty decision to roll back to the effective rate is not the right choice for Victoria this year. But at the same time, we urge the council to carefully examine the budget to determine the correct balance between keeping taxes at a reasonable level while still bringing in enough revenue to meet the needs of our community.
Setting the correct tax rate for a community is a delicate balancing act, but it must be done. We wish taxes could be set at lower levels, but we recognize there are needs in our hometown that officials would be foolish to ignore or delay. We encourage the City Council and city staff to carefully consider the budget and find the best tax rate to meet Victoria's needs. Your responsibility to the citizens goes far beyond keeping taxes low. You also need to take steps to ensure their quality of life.
This editorial reflects the views of the Victoria Advocate's editorial board.