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Raymondville budget comes with $2.2 million street project

October 2, 2018

RAYMONDVILLE — Christmas is coming early to city workers.

The city’s new $4.3 million general fund budget is coming along with 5 percent raises, the biggest pay increases in years.

“ They’re really excited about that,” Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said of city workers yesterday. “A couple of them have approached me and thanked me for the increase.”

For years, the city’s pay increases ranged from 2 to 3 percent.

“ When they know they’re appreciated, they do a better job for us,” Gonzales said. “They’ve been doing a good job and we just want to make sure they continue doing a good job.”

The budget also comes with the most extensive street program in 15 years.

But the $2.2 million project will not taking as big a bite out of taxpayers’ pocketbooks as officials once feared.

Earlier this year, officials estimated the tax rate could jump by as much as 1.8 cents per $100 valuation to help pay off $2.2 million worth of certificates of obligation used to fund street project.

Now, the city’s effective property tax rate will climb from 75.9 to 76.8 cents per $100 valuation, an increase of less than 1 cent.

That means a home valued at $50,000 would pay a $5 more than last year for the city’s portion of the tax bill.

Meanwhile, a boost in property values is projected to generate more revenue to help the city pay off the street project’s debt.

While the city’s total assessed value stood at $184.8 million this year, property values are expected to climb to $194.5 million during the upcoming fiscal year.

Officials attribute new construction and improvements with boosting property values.

Meanwhile, last year’s Willacy County sale of the former Willacy County Correctional Center put the 53-acre prison site on the tax rolls, pumping new property tax revenue into city coffers.

In March 2017, the c ounty sold the prison site for $2.025 million to Management & Training Corp. as part of an agreement which released it of its $68 million debt to the former prison’s bond holders.

As part of the project, the city plans to repair more than 30 streets.

“ I feel real good about that. If I can make the citizens happy, I’m happy,” Gonzales said. “We’re repairing the streets that are traveled the most — the busiest.”

To fund the project, property taxes will not be going up as high as officials once feared.

The city’s general fund budget compares with the current $3.9 million budget.

During the fiscal year, the city is counting on property taxes to generate $1.3 million while retail sales taxes are projected to haul in $1.1 million.

Public safety is taking the budget’s biggest bite.

The budget proposes earmarking $1.3 million to fund the police department and $744,217 for the fire department.

Meanwhile, the city’s water and sewer fund is projected to generate $3.2 million, adding to an $800,000 surplus fund.

fdelvalle@valleystar.com

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