The city is considering raising the city’s property tax rate from $0.56010 per $100 valuation of property to $0.60000 per $100 for the 2017 tax year, which would raise the average Missouri City homeowner’s property tax bill by $86.89, according to the city’s website.
Resident Carrie Pena said the city’s proposition to raise taxes without offering homestead exemptions to homeowners reflects a lack of empathy.
“If a vote is favorable for a $0.60 [per $100 valuation of property], I think that you should also be considering a homestead exemption on behalf of your constituents,” she said, addressing council members.
In reply, mayor Allen Owen said a homestead exemption would cause the city to lose $800,000, which it would need to make up.
“It only amounts to $40 a year per home,” he said. “But some time ago, we took that to the citizens and asked them if they would prefer we hire more police officers or have a homestead exemption. The answer at that time was ‘we’d rather have more police officers,’ so we took that $800,000 and we hired more police officers.”
The proposed tax rate will be able to support the city’s adopted budget of $137 million, city spokesman Cory Stottlemyer said.
Another resident Magdalena Martinez said she understood the need to devote resources to public safety measures, but she questioned some planned expenditures, such as the city’s plan to spend $57,000 to build a skate park.
“I don’t think a skatepark is going to make this community thrive,” she said.
After the residents had spoken, Owen asked those in attendance to support the proposition.
“We all sat down and agonized over what was necessary,” he said. “[The budget] wasn’t fluff. It wasn’t a wish list.”
Additionally, the city still has to consider how Hurricane Harvey will affect its financial condition, Owen said.
“We don’t know what the impact of this recent storm is going to have on the city’s budget,” he said.
City officials still don’t know how much reimbursement the Federal Emergency Management Agency will distribute to the city, Owen said. There will be costs the city did not plan for, and it will have to come from the budget, he said.
The second public hearing over the proposed tax rate will take place 7 p.m. Monday in council chambers, according to the city website.
City council is scheduled to vote on the tax rate Oct. 2, according to meeting documents.