Mayor Jose “Joey” Torres’ administration has reduced the amount of money the municipality would have raised through tax increases for the fiscal year 2016 budget, but that will still leave property owners to pay six-percent more in taxes, according to municipal officials.
$157.3 million is to be raised through taxes for municipal purposes, according to the amendments to the budget submitted to the council by the Torres administration. That’s a six-percent increase from 2015’s $148.2 million municipal levy, according to city records.
An average home assessed at $192,600 will pay $8,288 in taxes, said acting finance director James Ten Hoeve. He said that marks a decrease in taxes for the average property owners. The decrease is not the result of cost cutting by the Torres administration, but due to the citywide property revaluation.
“They’re still going to be paying more than they had prior to the revaluation,” said Kenneth Morris, councilman at-large. He has previously said the tax increases will devastate those whose property values did not see drastic reduction or remained the same after the revaluation.
The city’s municipal levy was $174.3 million when the administration introduced the budget to the council. The administration cut that budget down to $159 million. Then it further reduced it down to $157.3 million this month, according to officials.
The final reduction happened after the Torres administration took $2.2 in borrowed money that was earmarked for various capital improvement projects and added it into the budget. The administration took money from six projects that go back to 2004.
The funds taken were tied to a streetscape project, a bikeway construction and pedestrian walkway project, and a Main and Market streetscape project, according to the resolution that the council voted and approved during its last regular meeting.
Much of the money borrowed for the projects were expended. For example, $3.28 million was borrowed in 2007 for a capital improvement project of which $523,946 remained unspent. However, there’s one project the city borrowed $250,000 to complete, but remained entirely unspent, according to city records.
The city’s overall budget is $275.8 million inclusive of county, school taxes, and so forth. The state has agreed to provide the city with $25 million in transitional aid, according to municipal officials.
Council members discussed the amendments to the budget on Tuesday evening. The council is expected to vote on the revisions at its regular meeting next Tuesday.