Though the city expects to spend nearly three quarters of a million dollars more in the upcoming fiscal year than current spending, Mission Mayor Norberto Salinas plans to reduce the city’s property tax rate by a penny.
Also during Monday’s city council meeting the council authorized the city’s parks and recreation director to solicit bids for fencing at what will become the city’s first two dog parks.
City Manager Martin Garza is asking the mayor and council to approve an overall $105.2 million budget for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1. During a July 19 budget planning session, Garza said the proposed budget constitutes a spending increase of about $700,000 above current levels. At the same time, Garza is seeking approval to reduce property taxes from the current 0.4962 cents per $100 of assessed valuation to 0.4862 cents, which equates to about $400,000 in city revenues.
“The city’s growing and we have more tax dollars coming in and instead of spending it we give it back to the taxpayers,” Mayor Norberto “Beto” Salinas told councilmembers during the planning session in justification for his call to reduce the property tax. Following the July 24 council meeting Salinas said he has consistently lowered property taxes since taking office in 1998 when the tax rate was 0.64 cents.
Also a contributing factor are increasing property tax valuations in the city which increased 6 percent last year and are expected to grow by 3 percent in the upcoming fiscal year. As Councilmember Dr. Armando O’Caña pointed out, that is a 9 percent property valuation increase over two years.
“Our [property] valuations compared to other cities have been very good,” Garza said. If you look at Pharr, their property valuations were $2.6 billion. And our property valuations this year came in at $4.2 billion. So when we compare ourselves with cities of our size and population our valuations are higher.”
Garza said profits from the city’s utility and sanitation funds have also helped fund the city’s overall budget. He said the city’s decision three years ago to create its own sanitation department in lieu of contracting for residential trash pickup has been profitable enough the city can afford to make cash purchases for the equipment needed to begin making commercial trash pickups when its current contract for commercial pickup expires in 2019.
Garza noted last year’s utility revenues were $20.2 million and the city was expected to collect the same amount by the end of the current fiscal year ending Sept. 30. Garza said by combining the $1.7 million the city anticipates in the solid waste fund by the by the end of next year combined with $1.1 million it expects to have remaining from the solid waste deprecation fund, the city should have $3.5 million by the end of next year, enough to cover the $2.1 million needed to purchase enough trash trucks for commercial trash collection without having to rely on bonds or other funding measures.
“We’re paying cash for it,” said Councilwoman Jessica Ortega-Ochoa.
Garza said the council will hold tax rate discussions on Aug. 14 with a public hearing on the budget and tax rates on Aug. 28 and Sept. 4 with a final vote on both scheduled on Sept. 11.
The proposed budget can be found here.
Also Monday the city council gave approval for City Parks & Recreation Department Director Brad Bentsen to solicit bids for fencing for new dog parks at Bannworth and Bentsen Palm Community Parks. It was the first indication the city council had approved two dog parks in the city.