By Mason W. Canales
COPPERAS COVE -- Residents will get a chance to sound off about the city's proposed property tax rate at two public hearings later this month.
On Aug 2., City Council proposed to lower the 2012-13 fiscal year property tax rate from 76.39 cents per $100 of assessed property value to 76 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
While the change is less than half a cent, it means the council has chosen to lose more than $42,000 of possible tax revenue by lowering the rate. However, the lower rate will still generate about $8.9 million in revenue for the city, which is about $128,000 more than this year's property tax rate brought in.
Of the proposed tax rate, 19.11 cents per $100 of assessed property value will provide about $2.1 million to be spent on the city's debt.
The debt figure also includes a proposed bond of $4.2 million for equipment such as vehicles, that the city council is wanting to take to residents for a bond election.
"Most of (the bond) will be used for equipment such as firetrucks ... ambulances, backhoes and garbage trucks," Mayor John Hull said. The city's goal in taking out those bonds is to jump start a program that would let the city start replacing such equipment without borrowing money.
Hull said the city will take a shorter-term loan for the projects because it doesn't want to continue paying off that debt before the equipment becomes worn and needs to be replaced.
After the debt service rate is taken from the property tax rate, it leaves 55.66 cents per $100 of property valuation for the city general fund for a revenue total of about $6.7 million.
While the council chose a lower rate on Aug. 2, it could have chosen a higher rate and bring in even more revenue to the city. The city's rollback property tax rate -- the rate at which residents can petition for a tax election, was 77.45 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation. The rate would have increased revenues by nearly $290,000.
"There is no really good answer to that," said Mayor John Hull, about whether he thought the city could have used some of the additional money from the higher rate to help fund the city's wants. "We are trying to keep (the property tax rate) in line. If we see a chance to lower the tax rate, we need to, because one day we may have to go the other way."
Price for the residents
While the proposed property tax rate was lowered, it doesn't necessarily mean that residents' taxes will decrease.
According to city documents, the average valuation of a home increased from $96,240 to $97,390, and even with the proposed rate decrease, the owner of the average home would pay an average of $5 more in taxes annually.
Hull said the appraised value of most homes did not increase, but rather the number of properties increased, which caused the city's total property values to raise.
The council's preliminary decision to lower the property tax was a decision to benefit the residents, Hull said.
"Of course 0.39 cents is not much, but every little bit helps," Hull said. "We try to give back to (the residents) every chance we get without hurting the services of the city."
Previously this year, the city also investigated plans to move to a four-day work week in an effort to save money.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7474. Follow him on Twitter at KDHCoveEditor.
If you go
What: Copperas Cove Property Tax Rate Public Hearings
When: 5 p.m. Aug. 21 and 5 p.m. Aug. 28
Where: Copperas Cove City Hall, 507 S Main St.