Waxahachie residents turned out for the second public hearing on the proposed tax rate for the 2019-2020 fiscal year, Tuesday.
The meeting was more dramatic than the first hearing last month as a record number of civilians took to the podium to outline their fury and support for the city’s proposal to keep the property tax rate at 0.68 cents per $100 valuation.
“I really feel that what you guys are deciding on, I think 0.68 is a little bit too much, at least for me,” said Terri Davis-Cole, who was the first to approach the microphone. “I am a retired police officer for 30 years. I’m also a veteran. I chose Waxahachie because I love this little town … I know things are going up, but I wish that you guys would take into consideration that the town is comprised of all different working people – retired officers, work at Walmart or whatever. If you can take that into consideration when you’re making your budget… These are my golden years, and I just want to stay here.”
Retiree John Tabor hammered the council members as he engaged in a short back and forth with Mayor David Hill.
“I come to talk about y’all’s greed,” lamented Tabor, who retired from the oil and gas industry. “This is getting old. This is getting very old. Everybody points their fingers at everybody. This is the last chance you have to get a big raise before the new law goes into effect, and you’re taking full advantage of it. You yourself, Mr. Mayor, told me that one penny in taxes equal to $60 in taxes. Is that right? Isn’t that what you told me? It’s how much?”
The mayor answered “$10,” but that didn’t satisfy Tabor whose anger grew more intense.
“That’s not what you told me… ,” said Tabor, wagging his finger. “Well, whatever it is, all I know is you’re raising it a lot… You work for the people. It’s time to do something for the people. It’s time to back down on some of this stuff. You’re pricing people out of their homes… It’s just amazing to me that you continue year after year after year with these double-digits increase. It’s time to call a halt.”
Supporters of the proposed tax rate called it a necessary investment. The funds it would bring in, they argued, were needed to develop the city’s infrastructure and secure the best first responders.
“The land is more valuable, so we are going to pay more taxes,” a soft-spoken Alan Fix said. “I have seen the parks get better. I have seen more and more streets being worked on. I’ve seen new sewer lines, sewer lines being replaced that are ancient and falling apart; more potholes getting filled. That’s what our tax money is being spent on. As long as the city keeps improving like that, I don’t see it as a tax burden. I am further investing in the city…”
“When I talk to my family about this situation, every single one of them say they would invest their tax money...,” said a woman who did not give her name. “It is worth it for us to know that you’re hiring more firefighters, you’re hiring more policemen, you’re keeping us safe and you’re taking care of the roads and the quality of life just like you said. It’s so important.”
The Daily Light obtained a copy of the city’s 28-page budget proposal. The document explains that this year’s budget will “raise more revenue from property taxes than last year’s budget by an amount of $2,253,304, which is an 11.32 percent increase from last year’s budget. The property tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year is $1,150,436.”
If the city council adopts the tax rate, it goes into effect in October.