COPPERAS COVE — The City Council will vote on proposing a higher property tax rate Thursday as well as conduct its first public hearing on the city’s nearly $53 million 2013-2014 fiscal year budget.
On Tuesday, council members agreed to propose a property tax rate of 77.74 cents per $100 of assessed property valuation. The new figure is a 1.74 cents higher than this year’s property tax rate of 76 cents per $100 of property valuation but less than the original city staff recommendation of 78.93 cents.
“I would like to see us stay at 78.93 (cents). When we voted for the fire station back in November, it was with the understanding that there would be a tax increase,” said Councilman Mark Peterson, thinking the city would be operating in adeficit.
Councilman Kenn Smith urged the council to not raise the rate too high because several residents already have tight budgets because of government furloughs.
“I would not support that much of an increase on the tax rate,” Smith said.
Peterson, who was the only member to verbally oppose, conceded to the lower rate when City Budget Director Ryan Haverlah said the city has already figured how to operate without the deficit from the lower rate.
The 77.74-cent rate should generate about $9.4 million in revenue for the city. Of the proposed rate, 52.29 cents will be allocated for maintenance and operations and generate about $6.5 million in revenue; 25.45 cents will go to paying the city’s debt, a $2.9 million cost.
This fiscal year 19.11 cents of the proposed tax rate went to paying off city debt, which was about $2.1 million.
Increased debt cost is why the city originally proposed the higher tax rate, Haverlah said.
As required by the state, the city also calculated its rollback rate, which was 86.52 cents per $100 of assessed property value.
“The rollback is not recommended,” Haverlah said to the council. “That is a very high number compared to what we have looked at in the budget and the reason that is, is our increased debt payment.”
A public hearing on the proposed budget is scheduled for 5 p.m. Thursday at 507 S. Main St.
The proposed budget showed an increase of about $1.7 million in expenditures from the current fiscal year and had projected city revenues for all funds at about $51.9 million for most of the city’s major funds.
The general fund consisted of expenditures proposed at about $15.1 million and expenses at $16.1 million. The water and sewer fund projected revenues of $11.6 million and expenses of $11 million. The solid waste fund showed about $3.3 million in revenue with close to the same for expenditures. The golf course fund projected revenues at about $412,000 and $533,000 in expenses.