Two weeks ago during a Palmview city commission meeting Commissioner Javier Ramirez expressed concern over the recommendation from Interim City Manager Leo Olivares to raise the city’s property tax rate by 2.5 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
“I can afford the two dollars a month extra but I’m not sure other people will be willing or able to pay it,” Ramirez had said.
But on Tuesday at the first of two required public hearings on the city’s proposed property tax rate and next year’s budget no one from the public appeared to speak for or against the proposed rate hike.
Olivares submitted the proposed property tax rate of 0.5001 per $100 of assessed valuation to the commission at its Aug. 15 meeting. The city’s current rate is 0.4751 cents per $100 of assessed valuation.
Olivares said the value of the average home in the city is about $89,000 and that the proposed increase would mean the average homeowner would experience a $22.50 increase in their annual property tax. City Finance Director Rachel Chapa said the increase comes to $1.85 a month for the average household.
Olivares said the city’s total property evaluation is $435 million including $263 million in single-family residences, $13.3 million in multi-family residences and $95.9 million in commercial property valuation.
The city’s general fund for FY 2017-2018 is estimated at $5.8 million, according to the proposed budget available on the city’s website. Olivares told the commission the tax hike would mean an additional $100,000 for the city’s general fund, which he said would be used to develop the city’s infrastructure.
With no opposition to the proposed budget or tax rate Olivares used the remainder of the meeting to present his plan for economic development in the city, including what he termed an “aggressive annexation” program. Though some of his economic development plan occurred in executive session, during the public portion of the meeting Olivares said it was important the city conduct the annexations before a new state law takes effect in December that requires annexation approval by voters living in areas targeted for annexation.
Olivares said cities are permitted to grow by 10 percent per year for three consecutive years but only into their Extraterritorial Jurisdictions, or unincorporated areas immediately surrounding them. He said the state also limits annexation to no more than 100 lots per year.
Olivares said annexation would contribute to the city’s property and sales tax base and increase revenues for future growth.
He said annexed areas would also contribute to the city’s overall budget and cited some of the city’s current major expenses such as $1 million for the city’s portion of the cost of repaving streets that will be necessary after the Agua Special Utility District excavates for new water and sewer lines. He said another $504,000 has been dedicated to run the lines to currently vacant lots. He said some of that amount will eventually be recovered when the lots are developed. He said the city also wants to spend $160,000 to create its own ambulance service and another $58,000 on parks and recreation, including a new roof, floor and air conditioning unit for the city’s recreation center.
A second required public hearing on the city’s budget will be held at 6 p.m. on Sept. 12 at the Palmview City Hall, 400 West Veterans Boulevard.