Midlothian City Council members left the second tax hearing Tuesday undecided on whether they wanted to maintain or decrease the tax rate for the fiscal year 2018-19.
Holding a special meeting to hear further comments on maintaining the current tax rate at .708244 per $100 valuation, the council listened to three public comments on keeping the tax rate the same. Resident Tiffany Carra previously spoke against the tax rate at the first public hearing on Aug. 28, and she once again asked the council to consider a one-cent decrease for the 2018-19 fiscal year.
“Since moving to Midlothian, my average Midlothian city tax has gone up $98.21,” Carra explained. “Right now I’m sitting at $294.63, even though the tax rate has not increased. If you keep the tax rate the same, I will be owing to the city $164.03 more than last year. That brings my total increases to the city since 2015 to $458.66. If you reduce that to just one penny less and my property values stayed the same, I would save $40.30 this year. That’s almost half of the average increase that I’ve been seeing.”
Carra said she understood neither she nor the council members could predict what the property assessment was going to be. Still, even if her property went up with a one-cent decrease in the tax rate, she claimed she would again save $44.33.
“I am your average homeowner in Midlothian with half an acre, a dog, and two kids,” she explained. “It’s not $25. It’s not a trip to McDonald's or anything like that. I think about it as what I’m going to do with my kids with that money that I would be saving.”
Place 2 Council Member Mike Rodgers said he was in favor of reducing the current tax rate to the effective tax rate of .682680 per $100 valuation.
“I don’t know why we can’t, honestly,” he expressed. “It wouldn’t be comfortable, but neither are a lot of the reductions we make in our own households. They’re uncomfortable, and they hit us by surprise.”
Place 1 Council Member Wayne Sibley disagreed, saying that the council has worked with minimum numbers throughout the budget process. If they impose a tax cut now, personnel would be the first to feel the impact.
Place 4 Council Member Joe Frizzell said the council quickly needs to decide whether they want to reduce taxes, and if so, by how much.
“We need to pause for a moment and reflect on what we may be about to do,” Frizzell said. “As a council, I’m not sure we have consensus to either lower the tax rate or how much it needs to be lowered. I think we’re moving too fast. A hasty decision is not always a good decision.”
The council adjourned the hearing and will vote on the tax rate and budget during their meeting next week on Tuesday, Sept. 11 at City Hall.
David Dunn, @DavidDunnInTX