In order to generate the same amount of money as last year, known as the effective tax rate, commissioners would have to propose a rate of .46565. However, during Monday’s meeting, commissioners in a three to one vote, opted to propose a rate 3.5 cents higher.
A person with a $100,000 home will pay $35 more in taxes at this rate compared to the effective rate.
This rate however would generate an addition $331,118 above the effective rate with a portion of this going back into the dwindling county reserve fund.
Commissioners have scheduled two public hearings for residents to voice their opinions not only on the tax rate but also the budget. These hearing are scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 23 and 30 in the commissioners court room.
During a meeting last week, commissioners discussed a variety of rates including a smaller 2.5 cent increase.
No decision was made during that meeting however commissioners seemed to be leaning towards that lower rate and staying clear of a rollback rate which could prompt voter approval.
Linda Bridge, county tax assessor/ collector said, “Your roll back tax rate would be $0.51449. Your tax levy would be $5,495,677. That would generation about $462,000 in additional tax levy.”
Initially County Judge David Silva opened discussion to the court for their thoughts on the 2.5 cent increase discussed during that prior meeting.
“That would cover our proposed budget,” Silva said.
Bee County Auditor Blandina V. Costley, in responding to a question from Silva, said that the 2.5 cent increase would fit the budget — assuming everything worked out as planned.
“We will be even with the amount of monies we are projecting with that 2.5 cent increase.” Costley said.
The first motion however, didn’t come from Silva. It came from Carlos Salazar Jr. who expressed concern about the dwindling reserve and wanting to increase it.
Salazar said that last year at this time, the county had $900,000 in its reserve. This year, he said, it is down to $500,000.
“I believe we do need the increase in the tax rate. I don’t want to put a hurt on the people,” Salazar said. “Not to scare the public but just to buy us more time, I would like to propose the rollback tax rate but I can almost promise the public that is not going to be the rate.”
The court was quiet and his motion failed to get a second.
Commissioner Susan Stasny, after Salazar’s motion failed, said, “I would like to compromise between the 2.5 (cent increase) and the 4.5 (cent increase), and propose a 3.5 (cent increase).”
Salazar offered a second.
Ronnie E. Olivares, who had been quiet most of the meeting, reiterated “Just a proposed rate, right?”
“The hope is it will come down if we get some other revenue,” Stasny said reminding that some of the money calculated in the budget, they have not yet received confirmation that they will receive.
The motion passed with Salazar, Silva and Stasny voting in favor. Olivaries voted against. Eloy Rodriguez was not present at the meeting.
Jason Collins is the editor at the Bee-Picayune and can be reached at 358-2550, ext. 121, or at editor@mySouTex.com.