By Betsy Dolan
Missouri City’s City Council members heard opposition and sometimes anger over a proposal to increase the property tax rate by 7.2 percent.
Two public hearings were held Thursday, September 19 and Monday, September 23. Council members were not allowed to answer questions or comment.
According to the city’s web site, if the proposed tax rate of 57.37 cents per $100 taxable value is adopted by council, the owner of an average home in Missouri City would pay a property tax bill of $918.92–a $63 increase over last year.
The proposed tax increase will pay for three items already included in the City’s fiscal year 2014 budget: an additional firefighter; the creation of a 5-member motorcycle unit for the city’s police department and a pay adjustment for city staff.
News of the proposed tax increase did not bring large crowds to the public hearings but those who did show up were angry at being asked to give more especially with a $40 million bond issue likely put to voters in May.
“When you start asking me for more money, I start asking, ‘What do I get?’. Can we wait another year for a bond issue? What does this increase do to help improve infrastructure in our aging community?”, said Tom Blankenship, a Meadow Creek resident.
A group from Knanaya Homes, a retirement community, also addressed the council, expressing concerns about what a tax increase might mean for seniors living on fixed incomes.
Other residents questioned why the tax increase was necessary with so many new businesses being built in Missouri City.
“Mayor Owen has stated that $565 million in new business has come into Missouri City and we’re seeing an increase in property values and I have to question why the city wants to increase taxes to homeowners by 7.2%,” said Jenny Bailey.
Kris Alfrey, an outspoken critic of the Missouri City City Council accused them of treating the proposed tax increase as “just another back room deal that has plagued Missouri City for years.”
“How do you have $565 million in new business and still need a tax increase? Because of tax abatements that you have given to these new businesses. And now you want me and the other residents to pay for your corporate welfare,” Alfrey said.
The proposed tax increase has also been a hot topic on the Missouri City Concerns Facebook page. Residents are complaining about being asked to support a tax increase when the city spent millions of dollars on the city owned Quail Valley golf course and City Centre.
“They spent millions of dollars of our tax money for a golf course that most of us don’t even use. That money could have been used to revitalize our city in so many ways”, one resident wrote.
Another wrote, “Missouri City residents are paying close to $1 million in debt payments on the golf course and City Centre and another approximately $25,000 in operating losses on a yearly basis and they want to raise your taxes again”.
Residents who are members of Missouri City Concerns are encouraging residents to attend the October 7 vote on the proposed tax increase.