Odessa City Council approved a $93.6 million general fund budget and decreased property tax rate Tuesday, which would still amount to taxpayers paying more due to higher property values in Ector County.
Cindy Muncy, interim assistant city manager, previously said the change in tax rate would amount to about a $2.33 increase for the average homeowner. The average home taxable value, Muncy said, was $129,053, higher than last year’s value of $124,225.
Only one citizen commented at the second scheduled public hearing Tuesday before the vote took place. Larry Robinson spoke against the tax rate because he said that taxpayers deserve a bigger break.
“I think even though there is that little bit of reduced rate, the overall tax burden has increased,” Robinson said.
District 1 Councilman Malcolm Hamilton agreed with Robinson.
“I think what’s not being factored in is, as the gentleman pointed out, we have a rolling economy which means that there is a lot of inflation and hyper-inflation of people gouging, and I think it has a trickledown effect to every citizen here,” Hamilton said.
Muncy said many would be eligible for exemption, such as residents over the age of 65 and people with disabilities. Nearly 25 percent of the assessed taxable value is exempt through homestead or state mandated exemptions.
Hamilton voted against the proposed tax rate and abstained from voting on the budget.
The passed rate of $0.476601 per $100 taxable value is lower than last year’s rate, but is projected to increase tax revenues by 9.62 percent with the additional properties added to the tax roll. The budget includes a 3 percent raise to all full-time employees whose current evaluation meets requirements.
“We needed to give a raise, we have some departments that are down 20 people and there are only 30 in that department,” Mayor David Turner said. “We’re trying to keep all of the cost down, but in the tough times that we are in it’s difficult. We’ve just got to take care of the employees.”
“Odessa is typically a rolling economy, with the oil field, and all of the infrastructure damage that’s done inside usually comes from outside,” Robinson said. “A lot of the money gets chased outside of the city to different areas of the country and is not applied back here. We’ve got to find some way to spread that tax burden more evenly instead of targeting the same people every year.”
IN OTHER BUSINESS, THE COUNCIL
>> Approved an interlocal agreement with the Ector County Elections Administrator for election services to City of Odessa voters in Ector County.
>>Approved a request by PBar Parks Bell and 2012 Cross B, LLC, owners LCA, representative, for original zoning of Special Dwelling District on an approximately 92-acre tract and an approximately 14-acre tract and rezone from Future Development-Drill Reservation (FD-DR) to Special Dwelling District on an approximately 3-acre tract in the vicinity of proposed Yukon Road and Aaron Parker Road.
>>Approved a request of Light Investments and others, owners, for original zoning of Light Industrial in several lots of Odessa Industrial Development Park and a 2.17-acre tract southeast of the intersection of East Murphy Street and South Meadow Avenue.
>>Approved the appointment of judges for the city general and special election on Nov. 6.
>> Approved amending Article 12-2 of the City of Odessa Code of Ordinances entitled Operation of Vehicles by amending Section 12-2-3 entitled Use of continuous two-way left-turn lanes.
>>Approved amending Article 12-2 of the City of Odessa Code of Ordinances entitled Operation of Vehicles by amending Section 12-2-7 entitled School Zones.
>>Appointed Mayor David Turner to the Permian Basin Regional Planning Commission.
>>Approved the appointment of boards and appointment of officers.