City of Edinburg budget proposes no increase of property tax rate

City of Edinburg budget proposes no increase of property tax rate
Wednesday, August 21, 2013 - 11:20am

The Edinburg City Council is considering the 2013-2014 proposed budget presented by City Manager, Ramiro Garza Jr. during the August 20, 2013 regularly scheduled Council Meeting. For the nineteenth year in a row, the proposed budget includes no increase in the property tax rate. If approved, the tax rate will remain at 63.5 (63 ½) cents per $100 assessed valuation.

The combined $107.3 million balanced budget ensures no reduction of services and will allow for 27 new positions city wide. Garza says this budget focuses on public safety, infrastructure improvements, and quality of life projects as outlined by the Mayor and Council during the budget process.

The proposal includes $19.4 million in capital improvement projects that will allow for acquisition of property, drainage improvements, completion of the waste water treatment plant expansion, and construction of a new parks and recreation facility.

$5.2 million is set aside for capital outlay purchases and upgrades that include one tanker truck for the Fire Department, one pothole patcher, one street sweeper, 13 new police units, one brush rear load crane, a recycling trailer, phone system upgrades for City Hall and the Police Department, and irrigation systems for four City parks along with playscapes.

Meanwhile, $2.9 million will go toward upgrading six lift stations, sewer and water line improvements at 17th Avenue, Evangeline Gardens and Jackson Point, a new maintenance hangar for the airport, lighting for the practice Tee and driving range at Los Lagos Golf Course and remodeling of the rest rooms.

This year as requested by the Mayor and City Council the area of Public Safety will receive the largest portion of the general fund with 45 percent. This is a concentrated effort to provide public safety to the more than 82,000 people that now call Edinburg home. To help in that endeavor, the Police Department will get 12 of the new employee positions and the Volunteer Fire Department will get 6.

The City Manager’s proposed budget also includes 100 percent coverage of health, dental and vision insurance for all full time city employees. As well as a 4.52% contribution rate increase on behalf of the employees in the Texas Municipal Retirement System.

This budget also calls for no increase in residential solid waste collection rates nor in water and sanitary sewer rates.

The City’s largest revenue source is taxes. Property taxes make up 42 percent of the general fund, sales taxes 30 percent, and franchise taxes 8 percent. The remaining 20 percent comes from business licenses, permits, recreation fees and fines.

The next step in the budget process is to hold a public hearing on August 27, 2013 at 12:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers. This scheduled hearing is required because state law considers the stable rate a tax increase. Property values are set by Hidalgo County and have increased, so while residents will pay the same rate they may still have a higher bill.

The proposed budget will then head back to the Council on September 3rd, for consideration. By law a balanced budget must be approved on or before October 1st.

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