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MARBLE FALLS — A brisk growth in commercial development helped set the stage for the Marble Falls City Council to adopt a tax rate for the 2017-18 fiscal year that’s lower than the previous one.

The council adopted an ad valorem tax rate of 63.4 cents per $100 valuation during the Sept. 5 meeting. The rate breaks down to 39.82 cents for interest and sinking (sometimes referred to as debt service) and 23.58 cents for maintenance and operation.

The city’s previous ad valorem tax rate was 64.83 cents per $100 valuation.

The council also adopted a budget of approximately $41 million.

Marble Falls City Manager Mike Hodge said one reason the city was able to lower the property tax rate was because of growth.

“We’re trying to grow the city, and you see that with the business coming in. The commercial side is growing,” he said. “Would we like to see more residential growth? Yes, and we’re working on that.”

Two ways the city can draw more residential interest is by making sure people looking for a place to live know about Marble Falls and its amenities. The second way, Hodge said, is ensuring developers and builders don’t have to jump through hoops or ford lots of red tape to get residential projects up and running.

“We try to make sure developers and builders know that we’re business-friendly,” he said.

Another sign the city’s economy is growing is sales tax receipts. The city of Marble Falls levies a 2-percent sale tax on taxable items and services. Hodge said the sales tax helps offset the pressure on property owners.

The Texas Comptroller Office’s payment to the city of Marble Falls (posted Sept. 7) was $722,365.56. This reflects sales made in the July for businesses that report monthly. That’s a 5.31 percent increase over last July’s sales. The latest reflects the city bringing in $6.5 million in sales tax receipts (year to date) compared to $5.9 million last year for the same time period. That’s just over a 9 percent increase.

In another part of the budget process, the council approved a 3.2 percent increase in water rates.

“This is to cover some of the debt we took on last year (for utility infrastructure improvements),” Hodge said.

In the 2016-17 fiscal year, the city issued $7.9 million in bonds to fund improvement to the water plant, wastewater plant, water lines, and water storage tanks. Instead of dropping one major rate increase at one time on residents, city officials recommended spreading the increase over multiple years.

The increase is on consumption only, and does not affect the monthly base charge, the irrigation rate, the bulk water rate, or sewer rates. It’s a 4 percent increase on each consumption level.

At the 0-10,000 consumption level, the rate goes from $4.15 to $4.32; at 11,000-30,000 gallons, the rate goes from $5.06 to $5.26; and at the 31,000-plus level, the rate goes from $6.20 to $6.45.

“The majority of the city’s utility customers, over 85 percent, will see about a 90 cent to $2 increase on their monthly water bill,” said Margie Cardenas, the city’s director of finance.

Hodge added that city staff initially anticipated a higher increase for this year, but growth and development helped keep the increase less than expected.

“New development is also a contributing factor,” he said. “The cost of service is distributed among a larger customer base, which has helped to keep the increase down as well.”

Customers can expect the increase on their December bill.

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2 thoughts on “Marble Falls lowers tax rate, raises water rate, OKs $41M budget

  1. One of the reasons I was looking at Marble Falls to retire was because it was a small town and not full of the hustle and bustle. I am from Texas and currently live in southern California. I was really looking forward to a quiet small town. I may have to look elsewhere now. I still have a couple years to decide.

  2. A decrease is certainly better than an increase, but the tax rate is only one part of the equation. If the tax rate is lowered, but the property value is raised, you can still end up paying more taxes.

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