But they won’t. Instead, they’re all planning to raise taxes this coming budget year.
They’re taking advantage of the higher property values — and the corresponding lower effective tax rate — to increase taxes in order to finance employee pay raises, campus improvements, infrastructure repairs and other projects.
Here’s their proposed tax rate increases:
The City of Beeville wants to increase its tax rate by roughly 3 cents per $100 value over the effective tax rate to about $.60 cents.
Bee County plans to also increase its tax rate by 3 cents per $100 value over the effective tax rate to $.41 cents.
Coastal Bend College plans to increase its tax rate by 1 cent per $100 value over the effective tax rate to $.15 cents.
Beeville ISD wants to increase its tax rate by 6 cents per $100 value over the effective tax rate to $1.35.
Skidmore-Tynan ISD initially planned to raise its tax rate by 6 cents per $100 value over the effective tax rate to $1.35.
New information, received Tuesday morning, means that the district will be able to lower its debt service portion of the tax rate by 8 cents.
Pettus ISD is looking at raising its tax rate by an additional 8 cents per $100 value over the effective tax rate to $1.12.
Pawnee ISD will increase its tax rate by about 4 cents per $100 value to $1.15.
The effective tax rate is the tax rate at which the city, county, college and school districts can generate the same amount of tax revenue as they did the previous budget year.
Why the increase?
Property values countywide have increased by more than $140 million since last October, due mostly to oil and gas exploration. That increase in property value means more people are paying taxes and thus everyone can pay a smaller share. Thus, the tax rate can be lowered and, in effect, generate the same amount of revenue as the previous year.
But residents who live in Beeville won’t see the broader tax base reflected on their tax bill this coming October.
Instead, taxpayers in Beeville are being 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 per $100 value above the effective tax rate.
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.
Beeville residents paid a combined tax rate of $2.37 per $100 value to the city, county, college and school district during the 2007-08 budget year, or $2,370 — $130 less than they will pay in 2008-09 but $130 more than they would have had to pay if the four taxing entities would have adopted their effective tax rates.
BISD taxpayers will have to approve the 6 cents tax increase. An election is scheduled for November.
The increase, if approved, will generate about $900,000, which trustees want to spend on a 3 percent across the board pay raise and accompanying benefits for employees.
At the same time BISD taxpayers are being asked to pay for the 6 cent tax rate increase for employee pay raises, they will also be asked to begin paying off the $12 million bond package approved by voters in May.
Last year, BISD taxpayers paid a total of 14 cents in taxes toward bond debt. This year, they will pay a total of 26 cents toward debt.
Coastal Bend College wants to use the 1 cent tax hike this year to help finance employee pay raises as well.
Pettus school Superintendent Tucker Rackley said trustees chose to ask for a 13 cent tax rate increase this year to pay for employee pay raises and districtwide improvements rather than hold a bond election that could lead to the school district paying off bonds for the next 15-20 years.
On Tuesday, trustees approved a tax rate slightly lower at $1.12 – which will still fund salary increases and some facility improvements within the district.
Skidmore-Tynan school chief Brett Belmarez said a 6 cent tax rate increase is also needed to help make ends meet.
Trustees originally declined to raise the tax rate but Belmarez told them during a board meeting Monday that the 2008-09 budget could not be trimmed further. He asked them to find the cuts. They couldn’t, and chose to raise the tax rate as proposed.
County commissioners adopted a proposed budget that calls for the second 3 cent tax rate hike in two years to help balance the budget.
The City Council and county commissioners must hold public hearings on their proposed budgets and tax rates first.
The county will hold its first budget and tax rate hearing on Sept. 22.