STAFF WRITER CONNIE SWINNEY
MARBLE FALLS — An 8 percent hike in appraised property values prompted the Marble Falls City Council on Aug. 1 to approve a city tax rate lower than the current one and a rate recommended by city staff.
The council discussed the 2017-18 budget year item at its regular meeting.
By a vote of five to one, the council approved a rate of 63.40 cents per $100 valuation, which is below the current rate of 64.83 cents.
Council members raised concerns about paying down debt and boosting reserves; however, the majority expressed a positive outlook about a hike in property values that is expected to boost potential revenue.
The Burnet Central Appraisal District reported $726,407,494 as the property value calculation for the coming fiscal year, an approximate $48 million increase (8 percent) over last year.
“It ended up being a little bit higher than we projected,” Finance Director Margie Cardenas said. “That is a plus.”
Councilman Craig Magerkurth made a motion that council accept his proposed rate of 63.40 cents, which was just shy of the city staff proposed rate of 63.41 cents.
Councilman Reed Norman seconded the motion, which passed by a vote of five to one.
The other council members who voted for it were: David Rhodes, Mayor John Packer, and William “Dee” Haddock.
Councilman Richard Westerman was not present at the meeting.
Councilwoman Megan Klaeger opposed the motion, adding she was not in favor of “going below the effective tax rate.”
City staff proposed adopting the current rate, known as the “effective” tax rate, which would produce the amount of revenue as the previous year.
“My goal has been a downward trend,” Magerkurth said, referring to his proposed rate. “I’m for going lower than the effective tax rate.”
“We’re just now seeing a positive trend (of increased sales tax receipts and property values),” Rhodes said. “I hope it continues so we’ll have more flexibility in the future.”
Officials reported an approximate $260,000 increase in sales tax compared to the previous year.
The city budget is comprised of a combination of property and sales taxes.
A public hearing is scheduled for 6 p.m. Aug. 15 to talk about the proposed tax rate as well as discuss and possibly approve the 2017-18 budget.
The final tax rate could be approved in September.