‘Gouging your constituents is wrong:’ Pflugerville residents react to city’s proposed tax rate increase

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Pflugerville City Hall was at capacity Sept. 10 as residents attended the city’s first public hearing on a proposed property tax rate increase.

Pflugerville City Council voted 7-0 in favor of setting its maximum property tax rate for fiscal year 2019-20 on Aug. 27, listed at $0.5045 per $100 of taxable value. If approved by council Sept. 24, the proposed rate would formally be adopted for the upcoming fiscal year, beginning Oct. 1.

The adopted tax rate for fiscal year 2018-19 was $0.4976 per $100 of taxable value. The current proposal up for consideration is also listed as the city’s rollback rate, which is the highest a city can raise its property tax rate without voter approval.

Former Mayor Jeff Coleman was the first resident to speak during the public hearing, asking council to act on the city’s “tradition” of maintaining or lowering its property tax rate year over year.

During his tenure as mayor, he said the city abided by a self-inflicted policy “to come hell or high water to drop the tax rate by half a percent” each fiscal year.

“We were still as conservative as we could be while understanding we had bills we had to pay,” Coleman said, later adding, “that took courage.”

Timothy Bradberry, a Pflugerville resident, acknowledged cities get their money from citizens, but that it is within a city’s responsibility to do so with prudence.

“It’s right to be tight with all your might,” Bradberry said.

Lenette Peterson, a board member on the city’s Parks & Recreation Commission, pointed to the number of residents who had expressed fears of potentially having to sell their homes if the proposed tax rate increase is adopted.

“Gouging your constituents is wrong. Money grab is wrong,” Peterson said. “It’s theft, gentlemen. Think of your constituents.”

Following council deliberation regarding potentially lowering the scope of the proposed budget during its Sept. 10 meeting, City Manager Sereniah Breland proposed adding an agenda item for discussion and potential action on reevaluating a reduced cost budget proposal. The item will be discussed during the council’s Sept. 17 meeting.

Pflugerville City Council will hold its second and final public hearing on Sept. 17 at 6 p.m., located in City Council Hall at 100 E. Main Street, Ste. 500. The final adoption of the tax rate is scheduled for Sept. 24.

“I definitely appreciate your feedback, your input, your thoughts and your concerns,” Mayor Victor Gonzales said, “because you are Pflugerville.”

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  1. The property tax rate should go down, not up! PCDC led us to believe that they were using a portion of our sales tax to subsidize new businesses coming to town, so that the property taxes the new businesses paid would lower property taxes for residents. Why did that not work? (That would make a great story for Community Impact to investigate.) And who is paying for those new light post signs promoting us to read at the library? What a waste of taxpayer money! To me it seems like PCDC has failed miserably, and City Hall has a serious spending problem.

  2. Let me get this straight:
    Proposed tax rate .5045
    Current Tax rate .4976
    Difference = .0069 per $100.
    Tax difference on a 400k home (median in PF is 200K) = $27.60 per year. $2.30 per month

    That is a pretty small increase if you ask me.

    • https://www.pflugervilletx.gov/Home/Components/News/News/6540/?fbclid=IwAR01NZLP5SMgvnp4NeIYxTn0GNoxjNg121Z-eW6YmHPaJLc4JHQAAy8YsZ8

      It is about $80 per year and that’s not taking into effect home prices going up. I know $100ish a year isn’t a lot but as stated above that is not the point. We were told our property taxes would go down with the addition of more business.

      Now I guess we can just chalk one up for being suckers and believing them but I will not stand by and let them nickle and dime us also.

      • That Public notice leaves some numbers out that are important.
        It DOES take into account the avg. expected increase in home value, which isn’t controlled by the city (Travis County sets those).
        Using those numbers; If you used last year’s rate on the new value you get a tax of 1266.32.
        An increase of 66.92 that was going to happen anyway, unless you contest your tax evaluation.
        So back to my original point the amount increased by the tax rate would total just under 20 dollars.

        To your other complaint, if you notice in the second paragraph discussing effective tax rate; even with a lower tax rate, using today’s home value leads to an increase in taxes owed.

        To put it simply: Lower taxes (rate) does not necessarily equate to less taxes (total) owed.

    • You’re missing the point. Our economic development council was chartered many years ago to help reduce our property taxes. To support their efforts, they were given, and still receive, 1/2 of 1% our sales taxes. In other words, if you buy $200 worth of taxable merchandise at Stone Hill Town Center, the economic development council gets $1 of the taxes you paid on your purchase. That adds up quickly, especially in a good economy like this. They have a great deal of freedom in spending that money, and in the past they have spent enormous amounts of your tax money trying to lure new businesses to town. For the most part, they failed miserably, and this increase in the property tax rate confirms that. They can no longer hide their wasteful spending. Now they have been exposed, and it is time to disband them.

      • I would agree with you. I don’t think most citizens recognize the Aldermanic form of government that exceeds its constitutional authority because we are supposed to be a Republic form of government. That may seem impractical but when it comes to authority, the Texas Constitution provides the answer and these corporate municipalities derive their power through their corporate charter. I think they have forgotten they are subordinate to the private citizens of this state. But, not until people come to stand up for their rights, will they reform our government. From reading these posts it seem pretty clear they [Aldermanic government] have us divided.

  3. Once again our local leader are hurting the middle class people that can’t afford these rising property taxes but they will give all these tax concessions to the businesses that keep coming here and causing our rates to go up. How about having them pay a premium for us to let them open up shop in our area for once instead of begging them to come here and throwing money at them. Why don’t y’all look out for the little people for once?

  4. Give the tax paying citizens a break!! Its one thing to be pro-development but its being done at our expense via ‘breaks’. When this was a sleepy little town, we were told there was no commercial tax base to support lower taxes and as soon as that base grew, we would see lower taxes. What happened? Some balance was lost somewhere. Make commercial development pay their fair share – not fair that residential property owners shoulder the burden – don’t keep coming to us to pay the bills because you gave so many breaks to the commercial base.

  5. The proposed tax increase is appalling considering the increased home value assessments that we are all seeing on our homes. The rate should be going down to offset the assessed value and keep our actual taxes the same or at least only moderately higher. It is especially appalling that they raise it by the highest they can without a vote. The number seems VERY arbitrary. Why not raise it a little more and have a referendum on the increae – we all know how that would go.

    Where are all the business taxes going? We have been promised for years that the increased business and sales taxes would help reduce our rate.

    Its time that Pflugerville takes a hard look at what the city is doing. If the council goes through with this proposal, I for one will vote for whoever their opponent is.

  6. Pflugerville Joe

    I seem to hear a common theme here. The community seems to feel that we shouldn’t be giving any more tax breaks to businesses that are locating here. (Are you listening, city leaders?) It’s amazing that Pville just gave Costco a deal worth $6.25 million over 15 years, yet that place is extremely successful and obviously doesn’t need any tax breaks. I honestly think they would have built that store, right where it is, with or without the tax breaks. If a new business can’t stand on their own two feet, and pay their fair share of taxes, let them relocate somewhere else. With all these new businesses, residential property tax rates should be going DOWN in proportion to rising property values, not UP. I don’t care if it’s just a $20 increase in my property taxes, ANY increase tells me that either the city is spending too much, and/or they are not collecting enough taxes from local businesses/developers. So city leaders, when you ask the question, “what city services would you like me to cut to lower your property taxes”, I reply, “Why can’t you do more to increase business tax revenue?”

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Kelsey Thompson
Kelsey Thompson is the reporter for Round Rock, Pflugerville and Hutto, where her work focuses on education, city government and community development. Originally from upstate New York, she relocated to Austin after graduating from Syracuse University in May 2019.
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