MW tax rate up, actual bill even

·3 min read

Aug. 5—MINERAL WELLS — The city's tax rate is going down for the coming fiscal year, under an approach that takes into account rising property values in Mineral Wells and will draw about as much of a property tax bill as property owners paid this past year.

"This budget proposes a no new revenue rate," City Manager Dean Sullivan said in laying out his spending plan for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. "The (property tax) rate that is going to be assessed has been adjusted to the increase in your appraised values such that it does not generate any more revenue than it did last year."

That's a little more than $5.2 million from local property owners, based on Sullivan's proposed rate of slightly less than 58.5 cents per $100 in property value.

The rate would draw a $585 tax bill on a $100,000 home, which Sullivan pointed out during Tuesday's city council is $22.44 less than that homeowner paid this tax year — even with the higher rate of 68.8 cents per $100 property valuation.

Sullivan and Finance Director Jason Breisch are laying out a balanced budget that, at least in the first of up to three public hearings, drew no comment from residents attending the meeting.

Sullivan outlined two major elements of his first citywide budget after being named the city's chief administrator last spring.

"Streets are the priority," he said. "We have a five-year street plan. ... We're going to get these roads at least to a maintenance standard."

That's a condition where road crews are mostly filling potholes and otherwise keeping good roads good — a standard that's far from met on many of the city's bone-jarring neighborhood streets.

"We have to get them in some semblance of driveability," Sullivan said.

The plan includes a five-year interlocal agreement with Palo Pinto County. With a goal of rebuilding 25 miles of roads a year, the city is enlisting the commissioners' road and bridge crews to bring labor and equipment on 10 of those .

The city furnishes materials for the partnership and is budgeting $1.2 million toward that in the coming year.

"Twenty-five miles a year over five years is 125 miles," he said, contrasting that with the 2018 bond that covered nine miles of city streets.

The proposed $37.5 million budget anticipates strong sales tax revenues in the coming year, at $4.2 million. That's a 17.5 percent increase on this year's $3.6 million sales tax haul.

Residential water rates will not change. Residential sewage rates rise 1 percent under the proposal.

Residents who do not own large, impervious properties like parking lots will see a drop in the drainage fees their water bills. The $2.50 monthly drainage fee will go up, however, for owners of those large impervious surfaces.

"Eighty percent of you have been paying $2.50 when you should be paying cents on the dollar," Sullivan said. "They should be paying about 13 cents. On the other hand, (others) are going to see a pretty impactful increase."

Compensation for non-department head workers will rise 2 percent on Oct. 1 under the plan, with another 4 percent pay bump scheduled by the new year.

A second public hearing on the budget is scheduled during the council's regular meeting on Aug. 16, when the council also is slated to approve its tax rate. A potential third public hearing will be held on Sept. 6 but only if changes have been made to individual line items since the previous one.

The council is scheduled to approve the budget and tax rate in a special session at 6 p.m. on Sept. 13.