Smithville officials propose property tax increase

Mayor, city manager describe community’s mounting needs

The Smithville City Council in September will consider raising the property tax rate 4.7 cents to address what city officials described as mounting needs in the community.

Smithville’s property tax rate for fiscal year 2014-15 would be 55.3 cents per $100 valuation, if adopted by the city council at their next meeting on Sept. 15. The current tax rate is 50.6 cents.

Mayor Mark Bunte described the proposed tax increase as overdue.

“In the past six years we have only raised the taxes by 2.75 cents,” Bunte said. “Take into consideration that we have had several major breakdowns such as the pumps at the main water facility; a major breakdown at Willow Creek Waste Water Plant; and various other equipment failures.”

A second public hearing on the proposed tax rate was scheduled after press time for Wednesday, Sept. 3 at 6 p.m. at Smithville City Hall, 317 Main St., followed by a budget workshop and review of proposed projects.

Coverage from the workshop session on Sept. 3 can be found online at www.smithvilletimes.com, in next Saturday’s (Sept.6) edition of the Bastrop Advertiser and in the Smithville Times on Sept. 11.

Smithville City Manager Robert Tamble added that the cemetery, leaf and limb service and recycling center are all operating at a loss.

“If we don’t raise taxes and/or fees the city will have inadequate resources to provide the expected level of service,” Tamble said. “The current tax rate and fee structure will not sustain future operations.”

Based on the proposed tax rate, the owner of a $100,000 home would pay $553 in taxes; $830 for a $150,000 home; and $1,106 for a $200,000 home – an average increase of $71 from the previous fiscal year.

The total assessed value of properties comprising the city tax roll is approximately $181 million, compared to $179 million in 2013-14.

The council could follow Tamble’s recommended rate or decide to modify it. If approved by the council, the proposed tax rate and budget will take effect Oct. 1.

According to the 2013-14 budget, contingency expenditures exceeded $400,000 in 2014.

“Regarding the proposed tax increase, it’s better to have it and not need it, then need it and not have it,” Tamble said.

The mayor stressed that the tax rate was still an item that was only under consideration.

“The tax rate is not set in stone yet and it could be changed,” Bunte said. “It’s just something we have to go through every year.”

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