Under the proposed Killeen fiscal year 2022 budget, the average household in the city will need to pay about $153.83 more in property taxes and utility fees next year. This total includes water and wastewater rates, solid waste removal fees and the street maintenance fee. The figure also includes the proposed property tax rate change, and uses average taxable homestead values from the Bell County Appraisal District.
The highest change in payment comes from the change in property tax. Killeen Executive Finance Director Jon Locke has stated previously that the newly proposed property tax of 70.56 cents per $100 valuation would result in property payments roughly equivalent to the previous tax rate of 73.30 cents.
However, the Bell County Appraisal District estimated Killeen’s average taxable homestead values to be $143,171 in 2020, and $158,338 in 2021. This equates to a 10.5% increase in average property values, and when using the tax rate of 73.30 for 2020 and the new rate of 70.56 for 2021, the resulting property taxes are $1,049.44 and $1,117.23 respectively, an increase of $67.78 on average.
Moreover, Killeen Councilwoman Mellisa Brown, in correspondence with the Herald, presented an alternative property tax rate of 67.13 cents per $100 valuation, which she says set new property tax payments to more or less the same as the current rate of 73.10 under 2020 homestead valuations.
Under this rate, residents, using the average home value, would need to pay $1,062.92 per home — only $11 more than last year. It will be up to City Council, however, to decide whether or not to use the higher tax rate of 70.56 cents per $100 valuation or Brown’s potential rate of 67.13 cents. The difference between the two comes out to about $56.78, or setting aside an extra $4.73 a month, which, for many in Killeen, will make or break their ability to pay rent.
Water and wastewater rates are also set to increase by $1.47 a month for the average 5,000 gallon a month user, for a total rate of $23.68 and $26.86, respectively, or $606.48 annually. Street maintenance, while still under discussion, has a proposed rate that is $5.30 higher than the current $1.70, putting it at a monthly cost of $7 per single family household, or $84 a year. Residential solid waste rates, as well as drainage fees, are expected to stay the same at a respective $19.78 and $5.40 monthly rate, or $302.16 annually.
In total, rates are expected to increase by $6.77 monthly, or 8.91%, on average. That’s about the same as a Big Mac, or a large cup of coffee at Starbucks. Daily, that’s the equivalent of setting aside a quarter a day.
Combining average rates and assuming a water use of about 5,000 gallons monthly, residents should expect to pay approximately $81.24 a month, with a yearly estimated cost of $992.64.
With average property taxes, and using the 2021 average homestead values and the proposed 70.56 property tax, this comes out to an annual cost of around $2,109.87 for a total increase of $153.83 over the course of a year.
So far, City Council members have reacted favorably to increased fees, and Mayor Jose Segarra has expressed his support to the increased street maintenance fee.
“We’ve gotta stop kicking the can down the road,” Segarra said at the council workshop Tuesday.
Councilman Rick Williams had also agreed to an increase in street maintenance fee.
“This is a big ask for citizens to do this,” Williams said. “But in the long run, this is absolutely necessary.”
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