To the Editor:
As folks get fired up about rising appraisals, they should know the first move to raise property taxes was made with Harker Heights’ sales tax revenue accounting.
For years, the city aligned it sales tax receipts with the state comptroller’s reporting. When our city said it received $x million in sales taxes in any fiscal year, the comptroller showed the same amount. A fiscal year was October through September. Unless our city is counting sales tax revenue this year.
Last year, our city forecast it would receive $8.25M of sales taxes this fiscal year (Oct ’21 to Sep ’22). The modest sales taxes anticipated this year was part of the justification for max’ing out property taxes last year.
The Texas comptroller reports $5M of sales taxes to our city for the first six months this FY, well beyond Harker Heights expectations. Great! Our property taxes won’t need to be raised with what should be by the fiscal year’s end $1.6M of extra sales taxes we didn’t plan for.
Wait ... the city this week showed City Council just $3.4M of sales tax receipts and that we’re lagging behind with just 42% instead of the comptroller-reported 62% of the budgeted $8.25M at mid-year. How did this happen?
Simple, says our fair city — we’re moving the first two months of this fiscal year’s sales tax revenue to last fiscal year and voila, we’re not doing great, we’re lagging behind!
Accounting changes happen, but it’s up to the staff to add context so that City Council and the public understands the true picture.
The representation to the public this Tuesday was that we’re just at 42% of expected budget. The layman out there might still wonder — no matter the fiscal year — didn’t we bring in $1,663,794.94 in sales taxes in October and November 2021?
We did, but our city won’t account for it this fiscal year to show us that we’re well above glidepath.
Because if the city brings in $1.6M of sales taxes more than it planned, it would have a hard time justifying another property tax increase.
But now we don’t have that money*. We’ll need your property taxes.