Missouri City City Council approves tax rate increase
By Betsy Dolan
A standing room only crowd filled the community center on the Missouri City Hall complex Monday night for a public hearing and city council vote on a proposed tax rate increase.
The Missouri City Council voted 5-2 in favor of the rate increase. Council members Robin Elackatt and Yolanda Ford voted against.
The proposal will raise the tax rate from 54.48 cents per $100 in valuation to 57.37 cents. The $1.7 million revenue increase will pay for an additional firefighter, a five-member police motorcycle unit and pay adjustments for city employees including police and fire.
Some in the crowd held signs that said “Say No to the Proposed Tax Increase”.
But the majority of the speakers, most of them retirees, spoke out in favor of the increase.
“I am a tea party conservative and I hate anything that looks like big government or excessive taxation but I support this tax increase,” said resident Fred Grates.
“There has been a lot of rhetoric and personal attacks on people over this,” said resident Charles Butera. “As much as I dislike taxes, we need this.”
A series of former Missouri City council members also spoke out in favor of the proposed tax increase.
“I support this increase because of the extra police patrols and getting our fire station to be fully staffed,” said Roger Morris who was elected to the council in 1979.
“This can’t be about taxes. There isn’t enough money involved to get the city in an uproar. So what is this about? I believe it is the insistent voices of a very few who don’t like you (city council). I ask you to choose carefully the voices you heed,” said former councilwoman Eunice Reiter, prompting applause from the audience.
Those opposed to the tax rate increase acknowledged that additional pay is needed to retain city employees but are frustrated at the perception that certain areas of Missouri City are being neglected by the council.
“Do not raise our taxes,” said Karen Lambert who is a representative of the Texas Parkway Alliance. “If taxes are going to be raised, let’s make sure it benefits everyone.”
“I would support these things if I would get a golf course, a tennis facility, and a rec center in my area,” said resident Linda Ricks. “We’re not trying to divide this city but we want what’s fair. Why can’t we balance the scale?”
Officials said commercial and residential property owners in Missouri City will see a 5.31 percent increase in their property taxes. This will equate to an average annual increase of $46.37, which is based on the average home value of $160,160.
In late June, City Council adopted a $35.5 million fiscal year 2014 budget based on a .5835 tax rate. The pay adjustments, additional firefighter and the motorcycle unit were included in the fiscal year 2014 budget. According to the city, the budget was approved before the certified appraisal values were in. Those values came in lower than the expected tax rate prompting the need for the tax rate increase to cover the budget shortfall.
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