• November 26, 2014

Cove property tax may rise

3-cent increase discussed as budget option during last week’s City Council workshop

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Posted: Tuesday, June 25, 2013 4:30 am | Updated: 11:55 am, Wed Jul 16, 2014.

COPPERAS COVE — Residents could experience a nearly 3-cent property tax increase as the city’s debt service expenditures are projected to increase by $830,000.

Property tax revenue is projected to be about 3.9 percent higher for the 2013-2014 fiscal year because of increasing property tax appraisals compared to the current year. However, the difference in the increase in appraisals, about $360,000, doesn’t offset the increased debt service expenditures.

“It is a combination of the old bonds and the new bonds,” said city budget director Ryan Haverlah. “It is just a cycle, and that is typical of the cycle.”

The majority of the expenditure increase is coming from voter-approved bond packages to fund the construction of the new police station, Fire Station No. 2 and the U.S. Highway 190 project.

Haverlah said the city anticipates the debt service expenditures to continue to grow until 2015.

Last week, the Copperas Cove City Council addressed the possible increase during a workshop meeting, where the governing body reviewed multiple options for the budget.

The discussions included raising the tax rate along with the voter-approved increase from the Fire Station No. 2 bond election — 2.93 cents. If such action took place, the tax rate would increase from 76 cents to 78.93 cents per $100 of appraised property value.

Other options included removing numerous items on the council’s “wish list” for staffing and eliminating possible employee raises.

During the meeting, Haverlah said a 1-cent property tax rate increase would generate about $114,000.

Councilman Mark Peterson suggested the city raise taxes since it has not done so since 2009 and residents already said they would support construction to move Fire Station No. 2.

“I don’t like to raise taxes,” Peterson said. “But when we went to the voters, it was with the understanding that we could be raising taxes.”

Other council members, including Cheryl Meredith, suggested removing the high price tag and currently unfunded position of an assistant city manager and other possible employees to make up the difference in the budget.

All council members supported raises for city staff. Other council members suggested raising the rate by 1 cent to keep the raises and some of the desired staff.

City Manager Andrea Gardner suggested leaving the wish-list items and the increased tax rate in the budget until the city hears from residents.

Gardner will officially present the budget to the council July 16. The council will propose the tax rate and budget by Aug. 1, which will be 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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