- Associated Press - Tuesday, July 28, 2015

July 28—The El Paso City Council will consider increasing the tax rate for fiscal year 2016, which will amount to about $30 extra on a $100,00 home and will give the city an extra $3.9 million in revenue that has not been allocated.

City representatives have until Aug. 18 to approve the proposed rate of 72.9 cents per $100 of assessed value or adopt a lower rate. The council on Monday introduced the tax rate ordinance, which caps the rate that can be adopted. The proposed tax rate is based on the certified valuations that the city received from the El Paso Central Appraisal District last Thursday.

Mayor Oscar Leeser said the tax rate will have to be increased over last year regardless of the $3.9 million in extra funds that budget officials identified, and that some of it could be used to give city employees a $1,000 bonus at the end of the year.

“I’d like to see if it’s possible to propose a bonus of $1,000 at the end of the year,” Leeser said. “It’s a recommendation.”

Over the past six fiscal years, non-uniformed city employees received a 2 percent across-the-board increases twice, in fiscal years 2010 and 2012, according to the Human Resources Department.

City Rep. Lily Limon, who’s been pushing to give city employees a raise, said before the meeting that it was not right for council members to ask El Paso voters to raise their salaries and that of the mayor while ignoring the wages of city employees. The $10,000 pay raises for mayor and council will be part of the city charter election on Nov. 3.

“Some of our most loyal and hard-working employees have gone without a raise in years,” Limon said.

City Rep. Cortney Niland said she would like to find out whether the $3.9 million can be used to reduce the next fiscal year’s tax rate.

Robert Cortinas, city director of management and budget, said after the meeting that he is not referring to the $3.9 million as surplus funds.

“I referred to this (as) additional revenue to the budget if Council introduced the proposed tax rate,” Cortinas said.

According to Cortinas’ budget presentation on Monday, the additional $3.9 million stems from the final certified valuation of $32.79 billion and a decrease in the debt service general fund subsidy for the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone. The additional revenues will be available in fiscal year 2016.

City officials said the council will decide how to allocate the $3.9 million during a work session scheduled for Aug. 3.

Public hearings on the tax rate are scheduled to take place on Aug. 4 and 11. The council is set to vote Aug. 18 on the final rate and budget for fiscal year 2016, which begins Sept. 1.

Last year’s city property tax rate was 69.9 cents for each $100 of assessed value, or about $700 on a home with a taxable value of $100,000. Under the proposed tax rate discussed Monday, the new tax on the same home would be about $30 more.

The effective tax rate for fiscal year 2016 —the tax needed to raise the same revenue as in fiscal year 2015 —would be 70.43 cents per $100 of assessed value. The rollback rate is 75.26 cents of assessed value.

The proposed general fund budget for the new fiscal year is $365.5 million, according to city budget officials. The new all-funds budget is $842 million.

Diana Washington Valdez may be reached at 546-6140.


(c)2015 the El Paso Times (El Paso, Texas)

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