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The budget and tax rate has been approved by the city of Mission.
This week, Mon. Sept. 14, 2020, the city council met to hold a public hearing for the proposed property tax rate, as well as pass an ordinance to adopt the annual fiscal year budget. City Manager Randy Perez presented the items regarding the hearing and budget ordinance.
“The proposed 2020 tax rate is $0.5299 per $100 valuation,” Perez said. “The public hearing is to give the opportunity for citizens to speak on the proposed tax rate.”
Last year’s rate, the current rate in Mission, is $0.5212 per $100. Kevin Sparks, a business owner in the community whose family owns and operates approximately 40 retail spaces in the Sharyland area, spoke against the proposed rate during the hearing.
Sparks noted their business spaces include restaurants, barber and beauty shops, nail salons, retail shops, cell phone stores, medical and insurance stores. According to him, their tenants are behind in paying their rent – 50 percent of his renters are one month behind, 25 percent are three or more months behind, 15 percent are five or more months behind and 10 percent have closed permanently.
“Why is the city putting a tax on us when we can’t afford it?” Sparks said. “Not everybody is Home Depot and H-E-B, we don’t have the resources like these corporations.”
Sparks said their profits are down 28 to 30 percent, as well as their gross income for the year.
“I’m not even worried about me as much as all our tenants,” Sparks said. “I just don’t get why, in the middle of a pandemic – the timing is terrible.”
Sparks said he wasn’t arguing about the budget, but he was concerned about the timing of raising taxes and the toll they may have on taxpayers in Mission.
“I’ve got a roof I need to fix, some parking lot repairs – guess what? I’m not doing it, I can’t afford to right now because of the loss of income,” Sparks said. “I thought ‘we’re all in this together,” I guess not.”
Sparks asked the council to postpone the decision on the property tax, and said he had a lot of positive feedback from other business owners in the area to put up signs telling people to vote against the tax rate. Mission resident Esmeralda Adame echoed Sparks’ sentiments, saying she wasn’t sure if it was the right time to raise taxes.
“I know we haven’t raised taxes in a while,” Adame said, noting she speaks on behalf of a lot of people in the area. “But I don’t think we can afford anything right now.”
Adame said, taking into account a lot more students are attending school from home and parents are juggling a lot of stresses, taxes shouldn’t be raised. No one else made a comment during the hearing.
Perez presented the item on adopting the 2020-2021 fiscal year budget for the city. The total budget was set at $115,132,984, with approximately $51 million in the general fund and $21 million in the utility fund.
Without discussion, the council approved the budget as presented. Perez then presented the tax rate for approval, and said the Interest and Sinking portion of the rate is $0.0882 and the Maintenance and Operations rate portion is $0.4417.
Mayor Pro-Tem asked Perez to confirm if the difference between the current tax rate and the proposed tax rate was $0.0087. He said that was true.
Gonzalez Garza asked what the difference in the tax levy will be for the year, in terms of total revenue that the increase would translate to.
“We calculated approximately $500,000,” Perez said.
Council member Beto Vela made a motion to approve the tax rate, which was seconded by council member Ruben Plata. After the motion was made, in the middle of the vote, Gonzalez Garza asked if she could ask Perez another question.
Mayor Armando O’caña said he was sorry, but no, the discussion had closed, so she would have to vote either yes or no to the proposed tax rate. Gonzalez Garza then voted no, against the proposed tax rate.
O’caña and council member Jessica Ortega-Ochoa both voted yes on the rate, which was then approved with the adoption of Ordinance #4042. Council also approved the budget for the Mission Economic Development Corporation for fiscal year 2020-2021, which with appropriations is $5.5 million.
The 2020-2021 budget for the Mission Economic Development Authority was approved, totaling at $454,836. Council also approved four ordinances, which established positions, base salaries and incentive packages for the Mission Police and Fire Departments.