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Lubbock City Council Sets Preliminary Tax Rate for 2012-2013

Cole Shooter, KFYO.com

At their first regular evening meeting, the Lubbock City Council discussed the City’s tax rate, and set dates for public hearings.

The proposed 2012-2013 property tax rate for the City of Lubbock is 49.211 cents per $100 of home valuation, an increase of 1.811 cents from 2011’s 47.4 cent rate.

For a home valued at $100,000, the homeowner would pay around $18 more in property taxes, if this tax rate is approved for the upcoming fiscal year.

The proposed 2012-13 tax rate is higher than the 2012 effective rate of 47.341 cents, but lower than the 2012 rollback rate of 51.628 cents. If the Council wanted a rate higher than the rollback rate, it would be subject to voter approval.

The Council had to set the preliminary tax rate to publish for the public hearings, and chose the 49.211 cent rate, despite the objections of one council member.

District 1 Councilman Victor Hernandez supported setting the preliminary tax rate at the rollback rate, in hopes of putting more money toward the City of Lubbock’s $1.1 billion debt load and leave more funds available for the City for unforeseen circumstances.

“If we cut it down to the bone again, and something comes up, we have no fudge room, and if we wanted to increase it, we would have to go through the publication process all over again,” said Hernandez.

“Everybody wants a lower property tax rate, but right now, we’re not setting this in stone, is the point I would make. We’re just saying, let’s give ourselves some flexibility, set it at a higher rate, and at the end of the process, if everything works out like we had planned, then we can set it at the 49.211,” Hernandez continued.

Mayor Glen Robertson chided the Council on their newfound disagreements and questions regarding the budget discussions, despite Council budget workshops.

“We’ve had three work sessions scheduled, and the second one went about an hour and nobody had anything to say,” said Robertson. “It concerns me that we had a prime opportunity, meetings scheduled, everybody willing to go, and I guess because we didn’t have crowds to posture in front of, we decided to postpone it and do it in front of a larger audience.”

As for raising the proposed tax rate, Robertson disagreed with Hernandez, saying “I’ll be 100 percent against it. It would be too easy to stay there in my opinion, and it would be too easy for projects to get thrown into the budget.”

The Council approved the basic proposal of the 49.211 cent tax rate for consideration at public hearings 4 to 3, Councilmen Klein, Price, and Hernandez dissenting.

The first public hearing for the proposed tax rate is scheduled for Thursday, August 23rd at 6:30 p.m. during the next regular City Council meeting at City Hall.

The second public hearing for the tax rate and the first public hearing for the budget will take place on August 30th at 6:30 p.m. during a special Council meeting at City Hall.

Final consideration of the ordinances will be carried out at the regular City Council meeting on September 13th, and the last day to adopt the 2012 tax rate is September 15th.

For more information on the upcoming budget and tax rate, click here.

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