GRAPHIC: Proposed College Station budget for FY2020

Four people addressed the College Station City Council about the city’s proposed 53.4618 tax rate Thursday during the first public hearing on the topic.

The proposed rate for the 2020 fiscal year is the rollback rate and represents a 2.8777 cent, or 7.84%, increase over the current rate of 50.5841 cents per $100 valuation. College Station City Manager Bryan Woods said the change would result in a tax bill of $108.85 — or $9 per month — for a $280,000 home, the average home value in the city.

Mike Lee spoke on behalf of a group about the difference between a tax rate and tax revenue, asking the city and council to use the total tax increase instead of a tax rate increase.

“When you speak of only raising the tax rate 2 cents, but the true tax increase is 5.3 cents, like in 2017, you’re not being honest and forthright with the people,” he said.

Brian Smith also addressed the council, saying there are people in the community who are forced to weigh whether to fund their retirement plan fully or pay their property taxes.

“I would charge all of you to look from a taxpayer’s viewpoint,” he urged the council. “I would behoove every one of you to look at this budget from a taxpayer’s viewpoint with great humility. There are people who are hurting. There’s a silent majority out there that cannot come tonight and would like to be here tonight.”

The proposed 53 cent rate is nearly 4 cents higher than the effective tax rate.

A rollback tax rate is the highest tax rate a city can adopt before citizens can petition the tax rate be lowered to the rollback rate. An effective tax rate is the rate that will raise the same revenue on the same properties as last year.

While introducing the proposed tax rate during the public hearing, Mary Ellen Leonard, finance director for the city, said, “Collectively, the management of the city has recommended that the tax rate be increased to the rollback rate in order to strategically address the funding issues for existing commitments as well as known commitments for the future, known needs for the future.”

The tax rate will support a proposed $341 million budget, which is a 5.27% decrease from the FY19 budget.

Included in the budget are additions to the police department, fire department, $4.9 million in street maintenance funds and additional parks maintenance workers and an economic development coordinator.

The city’s tax rate is one of three taxes College Station residents pay, with the other two rates coming from Brazos County and the College Station school district. The school district’s FY20 rate of $1.23 per $100 valuation is the largest portion of residents’ tax bills.

Even though the proposed city and county tax rates would increase, the school district’s lowered rate would mean the average homeowners’ total tax bill would decrease from 2019 by about $250.

The next public hearing for the tax rate and budget will be at 6 p.m. Sept. 12, with a vote on the proposed tax rate and budget expected at 6 p.m. Sept. 26 in the College Station City Hall.

For more information on the proposed budget and tax rate, go to cstx.gov/budget.

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