Bee County taxpayers: They were asked to pay more for education, public services, gasoline and food while they worried about their own retirement accounts
by Scott Reese Willey
Jan 03, 2009 | 1796 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The price of regular unleaded gasoline had soared above $3.60 per gallon at some stations in Beeville by the end of May and almost $4 at some stations in Bee County by the end of the summer.
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Taxpayers were unquestionably the biggest newsmakers in Bee County in 2008.

If taxpayers felt like they were targeted this year, it wasn’t paranoia.

Most taxing entities in Bee County had their hand out last year, and in most cases taxpayers had no choice but to dig deeper into their pocketbooks.

Bee County government leaders took advantage of an overall increase in property values last year to boost the county’s tax rate by an additional 3 cents over the effective tax rate.

The county was charging taxpayers about 43 cents for every $100 worth of property they owned in 2007. However, property values countywide increased by an additional $144 million by 2008 and the county could levy a tax rate of 38 cents and effectively generate the same property tax revenue as it did the prior budget year. In August 2008, commissioners chose to increase the tax rate to roughly 41 cents — about 3 cents over the effective tax rate — to help make ends meet.

The city of Beeville also took advantage of the increased property tax value to raise its tax rate by an additional 2 cents last year to about 59 cents to help finance pay raises for employees.

Likewise, Coastal Bend College boosted its tax rate by 1 cent to about 15 cents to help fund pay raises for its lowest paid employees.

But when taxpayers had a say in the matter, they were not always so willing to give up their hard-earned money.

When Beeville ISD asked voters in May to support a $12 million bond issue to pay for districtwide campus improvements, taxpayers obliged.

Yet BISD voters rejected a proposed 6-cent tax rate increase in November. Pettus ISD voters also rejected a proposed 8-cent tax rate hike last November.

Skidmore-Tynan ISD voters approved a proposed 6-cent tax rate hike that will help to fund programs and staff positions.

Pawnee ISD increase its tax rate by about 4 cents per $100 value to $1.15 without opposition.

Taxpayers in Beeville were asked to pay a combined tax rate this coming budget year of $2.51 for every $100 worth of property they own to the city, county, college and school district — about 13 cents more than they would have paid had these taxing entities adopted their respective effective tax rates.

That means the owner of a $100,000 home will pay $2,510 to the four largest taxing entities before exemptions, $130 more than they would have paid had the city, county, college and school district adopted the combined effective tax rate of $2.38624.

On top of paying more taxes, Bee County residents also struggled last year with skyrocketing gas prices and the near collapse of Wall Street and the financial ruin of several leading investment institutions.

Many Bee County residents stood to lose as much as one-third or more of their retirement investments because of the crisis on Wall Street.

No doubt, the majority of residents are ready to bid 2008 farewell, adios and hit the road.

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