Voter apathy plagues council talks
By LPR Staff
As members of the Lockhart City Council consider a 13-percent increase in property taxes, they take note that the citizens of the community appear not to care.
“I have not heard anything from the constituents about this budget or the tax increase,” said At Large Councilmember Dick Wieland during a brief meeting of the co
uncil on Tuesday. “I”m disappointed that they have not taken the opportunity to make their inquiries, when they will all be very concerned about this after tax bills are released.”
Apart from council members and city staff, no Lockhart residents were present for the 18-minute public hearing on the proposed tax increase on Tuesday.
“I think it”s a matter of educating the public and encouraging them to be more involved,” said District One Councilmember Kenny Roland. “I want our citizens to be more hands-on with the process, and it”s up to [the council] to help them get educated to take a more active role.”
The hearing, the first of two, was held to give the public an opportunity to weigh in on the proposed increase in taxes, the bulk of which is an increase in debt service taxes to help pay back over $13 million in outstanding bonded debts.
“There is an actual decrease in the tax rate for [maintenance and operations],” said Director of Finance Jeff Hinson. “Where the increase is coming into play is our debt service, which accounts for around 85 percent of the total increase.”
Last year”s total tax rate was .6350 per $100 of valuation. This year, that rate is expected to increase to .7074.
“For a $100,000 home, the total increase in taxes will be $72.40,” Hinson said. “That comes out to around $6.03 per month.”
Hinson said increases in appraised values had caused a drop in the effective rate, the tax rate necessary to charge to raise the same revenues as last year. However, changes in bonded indebtedness are not taken into account when the effective tax rate is calculated.
The next public hearing regarding the proposed budget and tax rate increase will be held at 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 18 during the regular meeting of the Lockhart City Council. The council is scheduled to vote on the increase on Sept. 27, 2007.