Hutto City Council is headed back to the drawing board after it voted Aug. 31 to change its proposed tax rate for fiscal year 2023-24, making way for more funding to go into the city’s budget.

The overview

Council members voted to repeal a previously approved resolution, which set the city’s proposed property tax rate and called a public hearing on it. The no-new-revenue rate of $0.402114 per $100 valuation would have raised the same amount of property tax revenue as it did last year before taking into account new property in the city.

Instead, council will move ahead with a new proposed tax rate of $0.45 per $100 valuation and hold a public hearing on it Sept. 21. The decision is meant to give council more flexibility in the city budget and allow for additional dollars to go to road maintenance and potentially other projects.

The background

At an Aug. 17 meeting, council members approved the first reading of an ordinance to create a street maintenance fee that would charge all residential homes, commercial business and multifamily units $5 a month. The purpose of the fee was to raise revenue without increasing property taxes, with the funding to go to road improvements.

However, council then directed city staff to bring back a budget that does not include a road maintenance fee. Subsequently, Place 5 Council Member Dana Wilcott and Place 3 Council Member Randal Clark called a special meeting to change the proposed tax rate.

What they’re saying

“To me, the easy way out is raise your taxes,” Mayor Mike Snyder said. “We are up here to make a judgement call and decisions based on feedback we get from the citizens and taxpayers—what they want to see us do, and the vast majority do not want their taxes going up. They want us to find ways ... to get things done at a cheaper cost.”

Clark said he was willing to approve a no-new-revenue rate until council directed staff to draw up a budget without the street maintenance fee included.

“I now can no longer stay at no-new-revenue and keep us at the road fees that we promised—that I would get the roads done,” Clark said. “I was trying to do it through a fee; that failed. Then we need to set a rate so we can have a robust discussion. It may be that that will get people reinterested to do the road maintenance fee.”

The vote

Clark, Wilcott, Place 1 Council Member Brian Thompson, Place 4 Council Member Peter Gordon and Place 6 Council Member Amberley Kolar voted in favor of changing the proposed tax rate. Snyder and Place 2 Council Member Dan Thornton voted against the measure.