"Welcome to Red Oak. The city wants to raise your taxes," is how resident Penny Story began her remarks during the Red Oak City Council’s public hearing on Monday.
First proposed during their Aug. 13 meeting, the Red Oak City Council has decided to formally raise the tax rate for the fiscal year 2018-19 to .705480 per $100 valuation — a four-cent increase from the previous year’s rate of .6490. The council is scheduled to vote on the tax rate and budget during its meeting Monday night.
According to the city council’s Aug. 13 agenda packet, the action recommended to the council was to raise the total tax rate anywhere between .679 cents and .695 cents.
“A few years ago, I couldn’t spell politics,” Story said. “But I can now.”
The council held two public hearings on the tax rate on Aug. 27 and Sept. 10. Mayor Mark Stanfill said the comments at the first public hearing were staunchly against the tax increase, while the second hearing saw more mixed feedback.
Stanfill explained the increase was deemed necessary by the council to fund land acquisition for the Loop 9 project, a new animal control facility and the rehabilitation of some city streets.
“If they chose not to go with that 70 cents, we have to start the whole process all over again,” Stanfill explained. “My feeling is it’s gonna go to the higher amount because of the projects we have earmarked for and the needs that were neglected over the past eight years.”
But Story disputes that reasoning, saying she doesn’t see the need for those listed expenses.
“It’s excessive,” Story expressed. “We voted down tax increases four times in the last couple of years. If they were so sure that the citizens wanted this, why did they not let us have an opportunity to vote again?”
According to the proposed budget, street maintenance is provided an additional $15,013.95 over the previous year’s actual budget, while animal control’s budget will be nearly doubled to $149,988. The total amount of issued debt obligations secured by property taxes for the city is listed on the budget document as $9.625 million.
Resident Dawn Tunnell said she supports the tax increase and thinks street repairs should begin downtown.
“I feel like Red Oak just needs to get with the times,” Tunnel said. “They need to start providing for our kids and senior citizens. For me, $9 a month on my own isn’t a lot of money for that.”
Stanfill said some people agree with the city’s plans, while others don’t. But he feels confident that the tax increase is going to benefit the city.
“The tax rate is going to affect us all,” Stanfill explained. It’s not like the councilmen are immune to it.”
The council meeting starts at 7 p.m. Monday at Red Oak City Hall at 200 Lakeview Pkwy.
David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX