• September 23, 2014

Two speak out against Cove’s tax-increase plan

City Council to hold final hearing Tuesday on proposed 1.26-cent hike

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Posted: Wednesday, August 13, 2014 4:30 am

COPPERAS COVE — Two residents spoke in opposition to the city’s proposed 1.26-cent property tax increase Tuesday at the first of two public hearings on the tax rate of 79 cents per $100 valuation.

There were no comments during a public hearing on the city’s proposed 2015 fiscal year budget that preceded the tax-rate hearing.

A second round of hearings is set for Tuesday. The Copperas Cove City Council will take a final vote on the tax rate and budget Sept. 2.

If approved, the budget will raise more total property taxes than last year’s budget by $690,906 or 7.8 percent, and of that amount, $170,952 is tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year.

The proposed budget shows total revenues of $56 million, total expenditures of $43.9 million and an estimated ending balance of almost $7.5 million.

Al Castillo was first to the podium to protest the tax hike, although it would not apply to him.

“I am one of those old guys (65 or older) whose taxes are frozen, but I am here for Copperas Cove,” Castillo said. “I know the needs are there, but there should be a better way” than a tax increase. 

“This is the competition,” Castillo said as he recited lower property tax rates from surrounding cities and counties for the past several years. “Why live in Cove when the tax rates are higher?”

City Manager Andrea Gardner replied to Castillo, and the verbal exchange became somewhat heated.

“The public wants services but they don’t want to pay for them,” Gardner said.

She cited a drop of about $500,000 in revenue due to the tax exemption the state gives to disabled veterans, saying the cut equaled 4 cents in tax rate.

She said the city has to remain competitive in pay for employees or will continue to lose workers to other cities. With an increase of 21 percent in health insurance, “our employees are taking it on the chin.”

The budget includes a cost-of-living raise of about 2 percent for city employees.

Marc Payne, who owns rental commercial property in Cove, said he pays $26,000 in property taxes a year “which is a fourth of what I get in rent.”

“As a business person, I am not ready to go up on taxes yet,” Payne said.

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1 comment:

  • DawgDave posted at 5:44 am on Wed, Aug 13, 2014.

    DawgDave Posts: 101

    Al Castillo is a former Cove councilman and I, and most of the people I know here in Cove, are fed up with the tax and tax and tax mentality of this city manager. They have had years to get used to the 100% disabled vets' exemption. How is it Belton's tax rate is nearly $.15 less? As usual, Cove residents have been sold a line of bull by the city manager, EDC, city manager and the Chamber of Commerce for years. That new shopping center isn't bringing in nearly what was projected in taxes. The old "build it and they will come" sure doesn't apply to Cove. Sell that golf course - let a company run it. They turn a profit or go out of business. This city sucks.