This article originally ran in the Sept. 22 issue of the Progress Times.
The City of Mission lowered its tax rate for the first time since 2017. As of Sept. 11, the new tax rate is $0.5276 per $100 valuation — about a 0.43% decrease from the previous tax rate of $0.5299. However, due to the property value increases, property taxes still increase for the 2023 tax year.
For the past three years, Mission kept its $0.5299 tax rate — an increase from the 2019 rate of $0.5212 when former Mayor Armando O’Caña was in office. Before O’Caña became mayor, Mission taxes were below 50 cents.
But now, the city council approved a lower tax rate due to, in large part, a state mandate.
The Voter Approval Rate (VAR) for unused increment rate is $0.5276 — the maximum amount Mission could adopt before going to an election. If the city decided to keep the tax rate from the three previous years — $0.5299 — it would have required voters to approve it in an election. If constituents voted against the $0.5299 rate, Mission would have had to default to the no-new revenue tax rate, which essentially would have kept resident property taxes the same as last year.
But City Manager Randy Perez was confident an election for a $0.5299 tax rate would have failed in the polls.
“Chances are [the election] would not be successful and we’ll go back to the $0.4746 [no-new revenue rate],” Perez said at the Aug. 7 workshop.
To avoid losing revenue, the city opted for the lower $0.5276 tax rate with a $10,000 exemption for elderly and disabled residents in Mission. City staff estimates the rise in property taxes will increase revenue from last year’s $29.2 million to $33.1 million — a growth of $2.6 million.
Perez said the county anticipates the $0.5276 tax rate will generate $2.25 million based on property valuations. Overall, Mission experienced a nearly 14% increase in valuation from last year.
“Every year, the tax rate is based on our valuation,” Perez explained. “Our valuation went up 13.79%, which is extremely well from last year to this year. And because of that our tax rate went down.”
The mayor and council also approved a $140,150,640 budget at the Sept. 11 meeting — a decrease from the $157.6 million budget last year. During the 2021-22 fiscal year, the city budget was $144.7 million.
Within the budget, city leaders included raises for all city workers to keep up with the cost of living increases. Civilian staff and the fire department will each get a 5% pay increase, and the police department will get a 6% increase, totaling $2,542,591 for salaries alone. The budget breakdown is as follows:
- General fund – $63,437,644
- Utility fund – $24,360,052
- Golf course – $1,756,984
- Capital golf course – $49,107
- Solid waste – $9,427,373
- Event center – $1,077,779
- Special revenue funds – $25,715,972
- Group health – $8,070,277
- Debt service – $6,255,452
Although the mayor and council did not discuss the budget and salaries at length at the meeting, they held several workshops throughout the summer to comb through the details.
The City of Mission tax rate history: