The City government is in the middle of its annual budget process and this one continues the tradition of a long, drawn out affair that is entertaining to some political junkies. It looks like the final tax rate will be down by about $.005 per hundred after all the smoke clears, which will still leave us with one of the highest tax rates in the state of Texas (Ft. Worth is still ahead of us, not sure if anyone else is.) The city website has the proposed budget online, and it is full of good information such as 52% of the budget is for public safety, and 74% of the city government expenditures are for personnel. You can go through the 50 pages and quibble about this expenditure and that revenue source and who should pay for utilities at the golf course, but we really need to get to the most fundamental question to be answered for taxpayers and stakeholders of San Angelo. San Angelo's property tax rate is currently $.8275 per $100 (about a $.04 in the last 4 years.) Compare this to $.6854 for Abilene, $.4464 for Lubbock, $.4859 for Midland, $.56229 for Odessa, and $.65 for Victoria. Forget about Tyler, which has a tax rate of $.204. The question that needs to be answered is “Why is our tax rate in the top 5 Texas wide?”
I have some ideas, but I am waiting for answers.
An updated P.S. When you add in the storm water fee, it gets even worse. When you look at the impact on the local economy and community, every dollar of revenue the city collects whether it's sales tax, property tax, a permit fee, utility fee, etc. it amounts to a tax. This new storm water fee is no different. Using the numbers I have heard at the last few council meetings during the budget discussions, a one cent difference in the property tax rate is about $330,000. They tell us the new storm water fee must collect $2.9million so we can meet federal mandates. That is equivalent to about an 8.8 cent increase in the property tax rate. I'm sure it's necessary. I know there are not a lot of choices out there, but this amounts to pretty much the same as an over 10% increase in city property taxes on property owners in San Angelo. When we include the storm water requirements in the total tax bill we could well be the highest taxed city in the state. Do we really want to be number one?