City Hall

On Sept 10, Taylor’s city hall was open for comments during public hearings for the city’s tax rate and budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Taylor’s property taxes and city budget for the 2020-21 fiscal year are set.

On Sept. 10, the Taylor City Council had majority and unanimous votes on next year’s ad valorem tax rate and annual budget, respectively. Votes on the ordinances took place after public hearings.

The rate was approved as presented at 80.9215 cents per $100 valuation. The rate matches the tax rate from the 2019-20 fiscal year. However, citizens said due to some increased property valuations, property taxes will rise for members of the community.

“No matter what word games or deceptive language the council employs, if we pay anymore in taxes this next fiscal year, this is a tax increase,” said Tim Terpstra in an e-mail read during citizen communications. “How about we cut spending and maybe lower taxes to be more in line with other communities in the county? This will lead to more growth, more businesses and ultimately more tax revenues without increasing the burden on those of us that are already paying too much.”

Four other messages were read aloud that spoke either against or for a delay in a tax rate increase.

Although the council met through Zoom video conference, city hall’s auditorium was open to the public in case citizens wanted to make in-person comments during the public hearings. Due to COVID-19 restrictions, Thursday marked the first time since March that the community was given an in-person chance to speak to the council. Despite the opportunity, no citizen spoke during the public hearings.

City staff went through the budget with the council and how the tax rate will affect citizens. According to a slide presented by Jeffrey Wood, city director of finance, the average taxable value of a Taylor home in 2019 was $144,142. For 2020, a home that matched that value in 2019 would rise to $145,360.

For that home, property taxes would raise $10 from $1,166 in 2019 to $1,176 in 2020. Since suggestions have been made to lower the proposed tax rate to the No New Revenue tax rate, Wood noted that property taxes would then be lowered by $10 on a property’s average taxable value.

“So hopefully, this slide shows why we can’t simply compare the tax increase on the average home year over year,” said Wood, “and also helps you better understand how the No New Revenue rate actually works.”

The No New Revenue rate is a calculated rate that would provide a taxing unit with the same amount of revenue it received in the year before on properties taxed in both years. A No New Revenue rate for Taylor in the upcoming fiscal year would be 80.2466 cents per $100 valuation.

Although the impact of higher property taxes might be small for some citizens, Mayor Pro Tem Dwayne Ariola was still a proponent for the No New Revenue rate. With new businesses and neighborhoods coming to Taylor, he wondered what’s the trigger to lowering the tax rate. Ariola was the one dissenting vote on Thursday’s rate ordinance.

“These are crazy times,” said Ariola. “I hate to put it so lightly, but it’s the thought that counts. We understand where (citizens) are at, and the No New Revenue is where we ought to be in my opinion.”

The mayor pro tem acknowledged the No New Revenue rate could put the city short approximately $84,000 towards Taylor’s budget, but he preferred the city take on the risk as opposed to citizens. However, City Manager Brian LaBorde indicated there could be salary cuts for the city with a lower budget.

“That would be one of the things we’d have to look at,” said LaBorde. “We would look further, but we did a heavy scrubbing of the numbers, our expenditures to get it down to bare minimum.”

Councilmember Robert Garcia commented on the tightened budget as well. Although he understood tough times due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he commented on how raising taxes has historically been unpopular. He also talked about several improvement projects the city has in consideration.

“My biggest thing is for the council to understand that at what point and at which council do we take a stand and say we do want better streets, we do want better infrastructure,” said Garcia. “So what do we do? Do we take the popular way out, or do we actually give the citizens what they want — better streets, more fire, more police?”

The council discussed the tax rate and budget for almost 90 minutes. Clips can be seen below. For the full meeting, visit http://taylortx.swagit.com/play/09102020-1092.

Public Hearing: City Budget — FY 2020

Considering Ordinance: City Budget — FY 2020

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