Guest Commentary: Public Safety is Economic Development
August 22, 2018
By Mikel Ward, Special to KFYO.com
I have been urging the Lubbock City Council to use property tax funds now allocated to Market Lubbock Inc. (MLI) to pay debt service on the $60 million planned police headquarters and 3 substations instead of raising tax rates even more. The proposed total economic development funding totals a whopping $10 million for 2018-19 (MLI with property taxes of almost $3.8 million and Lubbock Economic Development Alliance (LEDA) with $6.2 million from 1/8 cent sales tax). Voters repealed the property tax portion completely out of the City Charter (1-18-1992) by 84%, so that money can and should be used for other purposes or left in taxpayers' pockets to spend or invest in their businesses.
Do we need to bribe more businesses to relocate here when our workforce is almost fully employed and needed infrastructure is not keeping up with current growth? Lower taxes will result in more prosperity without corporate welfare that picks winners & losers.
MLI is already using economic development funds to promote public safety by paying for half of the increased police presence downtown. Debt service for 2018-19 for the first year of the police project will be $1.4 million, proposed to be paid with an additional one cent property tax and two more cents added next year.
Besides the proposed tax hike above, appraisal creep and new growth have netted more revenue equal to almost one cent over the effective tax rate of .53092 to raise the same amount as the current rate of .53802 cents per $100 valuation. Sales tax funds and hidden utility taxes are also increasing substantially. The total City budget has increased by $10.4 million from $818.6 million adopted for 2017-18 to the proposed $829 million for 2018-19 despite the City Manager's reform efforts to lessen Lubbock's over $1 billion debt.
The Lubbock County Commissioners announced that they are adopting the effective tax rate of .34808 cents per $100 and not increasing pay for officials, making the City look even worse for grabbing almost 2 cents over the effective rate. Insist that the City Council keep taxes low at public hearings at 5:15 PM August 23rd and at 8 AM August 30th.
Read a previous Mikel Ward guest column from 2017.
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