The climbing cost of property taxes for one Copperas Cove woman was the main talking point in the first of two public hearings Tuesday night on the proposed tax rate for the fiscal year 2019 budget.
Cheryl Lewis, 55, an Army veteran who owns a home in Copperas Cove, fears she may be forced to leave the city she moved to three years ago for a low cost of living.
She was among six residents in a meeting that was fast to finish.
The council has proposed a tax rate of 79.7908 cents per $100 property valuation, the same as the current rate.
Because the proposed tax rate is higher than the effective tax rate of 78.15 cents, which would keep revenue the same as the previous fiscal year, the city is required to hold two public hearings before adopting a tax rate.
Lewis said her property appraisal has risen about $7,000 for this year, which will result in a few hundred dollars extra paid in property taxes.
Although she said she receives a partial disability relief, supporting her family with a fixed income becomes cumbersome.
“It is getting to the point where it is getting too expensive to live here, much less thrive here,” Lewis said. “I have a high schooler here. I like this area, and I’d like to stay here.”
The reason Lewis will pay more taxes is because her property was appraised at a higher value.
Interim City Manager Ryan Haverlah clarified that in spite of the proposed tax rate in Cove remaining the same, property values in the city have risen by an average of 1.9 percent.
Property tax revenue
Higher property values result in more property tax revenue, even though the tax rate remains unchanged. Revenue for the proposed 2019 general fund is $16,560,085. Factoring in the proposed tax rate bumps that total to $16,577,206.
“What’s key for you to understand: Everybody up here is getting that same letter,” said Councilman Charlie Youngs. “It is the Coryell County Appraisal District that is doing that to all of us ... This body has not raised that tax rate in four years. But I understand your frustration, and we’re an easy target.”
Councilmen referred Lewis to the Coryell County Appraisal District and encouraged her to challenge her hiked appraisal value.
Nonetheless, Lewis said she was totally against the cost of anything rising in Cove, which has a higher property tax rate than both Killeen and Harker Heights.
“This is the same house — I’ve done nothing. Why does it keep going up?” Lewis said. “It’s all about the bottom line for me.”
The next tax rate public hearing will be at 5 p.m. Aug. 21 at the Technology Center at 508 S. Second St.
The council will officially vote on whether to adopt that tax rate at 6 p.m. Sept. 4, also at the Technology Center.