• July 26, 2014

Council considers 3-cent tax increase

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Posted: Friday, June 28, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 11:55 am, Wed Jul 16, 2014.

Several new additions to city staff and raises for employees may stay in the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget if the Copperas Cove City Council decides to move forward with a nearly 3 cent property tax increase.

Last week, the council reviewed its previous wish list of employees, which also included between a 1.5 percent and 3 percent raise for current staff members.

On the wish list were two new full-time positions — an assistant city manager and a records clerk for the city secretary’s office — and three part-time positions— two phone receptionists and a benefits clerk for human resources.

The cost of funding the positions and raises would be about $327,000, according to a presentation viewed by the council.

Other wished-for positions included those unfunded in the city’s personnel plan and new job titles. The $1.7 million price tag for those unnamed positions was not recommended for the upcoming budget year.

If they city keeps the tax rate the same and adds the two full-time and three part-time positions, the city will operate in a deficit despite seeing a possible 3.9 percent increase in property tax revenue because of increased appraisal values.

“We are looking at a total of $152,348 deficit,” Budget Director Ryan Haverlah said last week.

The revenue increase will be outpaced by an increase in debt services expenditures, estimated at $830,000. Additionally, the costs for medical insurance, the Texas Municipal Retirement System and city-operated wellness programs are increasing to a projected $180,000, the presentation stated.

By increasing the property tax rate with the voter-approved increase from the Fire Station No. 2 bond election, 2.93 cents, the city would be able to pay both the increasing debt services expenditures and afford the new employees and raises. If such action took place, the tax rate would increase from 76 cents to 78.93 cents per $100 of appraised property value.

“Financially speaking, (the rate increase) allows for the staffing to be added,” Haverlah said Monday. “If they don’t want that tax rate then we will need direction from the council.”

Councilman Mark Peterson and City Manager Andrea Gardner suggested the council keep both the property tax rate and two full-time and three part-time positions in a future proposed budget and wait to hear from residents. Gardner should officially present the proposed budget to the council July 16. The council will propose the tax rate and budget by Aug. 1, followed by two public hearings on the property tax rate, tentatively scheduled for Aug. 20 and Aug. 27. The city plans to adopt the budget by Sept. 3.

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