Mayor says city needs to spend ‘se­ri­ous money’ on main­tain­ing in­fra­struc­ture.

Austin American-Statesman - - METRO & STATE - By Rachel Rice rrice@ac­n­news­pa­pers.com

The West Lake Hills City Coun­cil is propos­ing a prop­erty tax rate in­crease to 6.5 cents per $100 of prop­erty val­u­a­tion, up from 5.72 cents.

The pro­posed tax rate was ap­proved for pub­lic no­tice dur­ing the July 26 coun­cil meeting, to be parsed in up­com­ing pub­lic hear­ings. Pub­lic hear­ings will take place Wed­nes­day and Sept. 13.

The sug­gested tax rate is just be­low the “roll­back” tax rate, or the rate in­crease at which res­i­dents could pe­ti­tion for an elec­tion on the tax rate, which is 6.52 cents.

Based on the av­er­age tax­able value in West Lake Hills of $1,055,509, the av­er­age home­owner pays $603.75 in taxes. At the pro­posed tax rate of 6.5 cents per $100 prop­erty val­u­a­tion, the av­er­age home­owner would pay $686.08 in taxes.

Mayor Linda An­thony said the pro­posal was not set in stone — the coun­cil has the op­tion to de­crease the pro­posed tax rate as the city moves through the bud­get process and hears from res­i­dents at pub­lic hear­ings. An­thony ini­tially sug­gested the coun­cil con­sider a half-cent tax in­crease, up to 6.22 cents.

“We did not raise rates last year, and be­fore that we raised them only a nom­i­nal amount for the first time in eight years the year be­fore,” An­thony said. “Our in­fra­struc­ture needs have shown that we re­ally need to start spend­ing some se­ri­ous money on im­prov­ing and main­tain­ing our in­fra­struc­ture . ... I know no one likes to hear we’re rais­ing prop­erty taxes, but we also en­joy al­most the low­est tax rate in the state with a good level of ser­vices . ... I think we owe it to our res­i­dents to main­tain our city.”

Concerns were raised by coun­cil mem­bers that the state Leg­is­la­ture was con­sid­er­ing de­creas­ing the roll­back rate even lower, a tac­tic City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Robert Wood said might par­tic­u­larly pun­ish cities that have been keep­ing their tax rates low.

The mo­tion to ap­prove the pro­posed tax rate for pub­lic no­tice was unan­i­mous.


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