By LISA SEISER
PALM VALLEY — If the second public hearing on the city’s tax rate is anything like the first one, it may be a toss up as to whether there will be an increase for 2019.
Last night, during the first hearing, some residents and one council member questioned Mayor George Rivera’s proposal to raise the city’s tax rate by 3.4 cents. That increase would bring in an additional $40,825 in property tax revenues, all of which will be used to bolster funds for future drainage and road repairs already determined to be needed in the small city.
While the council chambers at times seemed split, two council members were missing from the meeting and the second hearing with a likely vote will occur in one week, on Aug. 28.
If approved, the tax increase would follow an increase from last year, a concern council member Julie Martin brought up during the meeting.
“I am just not comfortable raising taxes for the second time in two years,” she said. “We just raised taxes.”
The increase would be from 48.1 cents per $100 of assessed value to 51.5 cents. That means a home valued at $100,000 would see an increase of about $34 for the city’s portion of services. If approved, for city services, taxpayers would pay $772 on a property valued at $150,000 or $1,287 on a home valued at $250,000.
Newest council member Lisa Taylor, who is an attorney, said she “leaned toward the conservative side.”
“I like the idea of raising taxes a little and increasing reserves just in case something happens,” she said about the tax rate increase. “In order to keep this a wonderful and beautiful city, I am good with it.”
Rivera told a handful of residents and three council members that he believes this could be the last tax increase in awhile. He reiterated the additional funds will not be used to fund operating costs. Rather, the money will be part of surplus funds placed in accounts to later be used for what are expected to be costly pond dredging and eventually the main roadway around Palm Valley.
“These repairs we are looking at will cost us a lot of money,” Rivera said. “We are looking at other plans to fund these things, but we also need to show lenders and bond holders that we can pay it back.”
However, Rivera was clear, stating he would prefer not to borrow.
Drainage pond dredging of the 10 or 11 ponds in the city has been suggested could cost between $500,000 and as much as $3 million.
Previous discussions regarding road and sewer repairs suggested that the city may have to come up with upwards of $7 million for those fixes.
The city currently is operating a surplus. Those funds that will amount to a total of about $250,000 will be added to the road and water funds.
Rivera was quick to point out that previous councils have put this council and the city in the situation it is.
“Our past council members did an injustice,” Rivera said of the city going years without a tax rate increase. “They didn’t want to pay more taxes and so they weren’t able to build up reserves. This should have been done.”