City of Amarillo Responds to Questions Regarding Upcoming Tax Election | KAMR
AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR / KCIT) – To accommodate an approved budget increase of over 22%, Amarillo voters will have the chance to go to the polls in November, ultimately making the decision on how much the city of their property tax bill will go up.
According to previous reports from MyHighPlains.com, this comes after the city approved a tax rate of $ 0.48404 in August, triggering an election in November. This is a maintenance and operating rate of $ 0.40493 and a debt service rate of $ 0.07991.
The funds the city would raise from the additional income would go to the following:
- Improvements to parks, sports fields, trails, other facilities and maintenance needs;
- Six new members of the police department, vehicles and associated equipment;
- Additional police / fire equipment;
- Repair and resurfacing of potholes in the streets;
- Salary adjustments for staff at the Amarillo Emergency Communications Center;
- A 1% increase in compensation for police, fire and city employees.
Laura Storrs, Deputy City Manager for the City of Amarillo, responded to five questions that have been asked by Amarillo residents on social media and through public comments regarding this upcoming tax rate election.
If the proposal is accepted, how much would my property tax bill increase?
Storrs said the increase would only impact the city’s share of the citizens’ property tax bill, accounting for around 19% of the total bill. If the vote passes, the city’s portion of the tax rate would rise to $ 0.48404, about 22% higher than the city’s rate of $ 0.39681 for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.
Because the city’s tax rate portion is only part of the overall bill, the remainder of which goes to the public school district, county of residence, Amarillo College, and Water District, Storrs has stated that this would increase the property tax of citizens. charge around 3.5% if other entities do not change their tax rate.
“A citizen pays the entire tax bill, not just part to the city and part to the school district separately. Everything is one, ”she said. “Because we’re a smaller portion of the overall property tax bill, even with the rate increase we’re looking at, that’s about a 3.5% increase for a taxpayer. ”
If the vote fails in November, the tax rate for the 2021-2022 fiscal year would result in a voter approval tax rate of $ 0.44334, which is $ 0.0407 lower than the council vote. rates. This voter approval tax rate, mandated by Texas law, is consistently higher than the city’s rate of $ 0.39681 for the 2020-21 fiscal year.
However, city officials have stressed that the rate for the 2021-2022 fiscal year will not increase for residents aged 65 and over.
Can the city use its surplus revenue funds to finance improvements, without needing a property tax increase?
Storrs said the city would not be able to use its surplus revenue funds to fund the improvements that the full tax increase would make due to the city’s minimum reserve policy.
Storrs said the city maintains a 90-day operating reserve for its general fund, in case unforeseen circumstances arise that affect the city’s funding or the amount of spending the city is expected to make.
“It’s millions of dollars, but it’s the same, on a personal level, where instead of potentially living from paycheck to paycheck, you put money aside in your savings, to the bank, in case something happens, ”Storrs said. “It’s just a good financial way to make sure things are healthy going forward and that if things don’t go as planned, you have something to lean on. . ”
Can the city use the revenue from sales taxes or hotel occupancy taxes to finance improvements, without the need for a property tax increase?
Storrs said the city cannot use revenue from sales taxes or hotel occupancy taxes to fund the improvements this proposed tax increase would bring.
While the city recorded record sales tax revenue in 2021, Storrs said that excess revenue can be spent on one-time purchases, with officials not expecting these historic levels to continue.
“We could take these dollars, these one-time dollars that we’ve seen in record sales tax collections this year, and allocate them to one-time projects,” she said. “But you can’t put these extra cops, the ongoing maintenance of the parks, the ongoing repairs to the streets, something like that. You get it once and then it’s over.
For hotel occupancy tax, Storrs said state law restricts the use of those funds. These funds can only promote tourism, which includes financing the operation of the Amarillo Civic Center complex, paying the debt on Hodgetown, and paying the debt on the downtown parking lot.
How does this upcoming Proposition A election differ from the 2020 Proposition A election?
In 2020, 61% of voters voted against Proposition A, a $ 275 million bond financing enhancement and additions to the Amarillo Civic Center complex. In Proposal A on the ballot in 2021, Storrs said no funding would go to this project rejected by voters in 2020.
“Proposal A in 2020 was to upgrade the Civic Center, renovate the Civic Center and add an arena. Proposal A this year is to approve a tax rate that has already been passed by council that will provide funding for additional police officers, additional police personnel, police and fire equipment, park funding and street funding, ”Storrs said. “… It will not fund the city’s facilities. We don’t invest any funding in the Civic Center or anything like that. This has nothing to do with Proposition A of 2020. ”
If the Proposal A vote fails in November, what improvements would the city receive in these areas under the voter approval tax rate?
If voters don’t approve Proposition A’s measure on the ballot in November, the city’s tax rate for fiscal year 2021-2022 would be the voter approval tax rate of 0, $ 44,334. This is still an increase in the tax rate for voters over the previous fiscal year.
Since the increase would not represent the full amount, Storrs said some of the first responder positions would not be filled if the measure was not passed. It would also impact new first responder equipment as well as funds that would fund additional pothole repairs and street resurfacing.
Failure to adopt the proposal in its entirety would also result in a loss of around $ 1.5 million in park funding, Storrs said.
“What that would look like for the community is that the approved funding would help keep our upkeep, bring it to a better standard in terms of maintaining our existing park equipment,” he said. she declared. “But that wouldn’t allow us to add some of that extra park gear that we’ve heard from our community.”
The voter approval tax rate would give the city the ability to maintain the services it currently provides to citizens, Storrs said.
“It’s more about maintaining what we need to fend for ourselves now and not being able to put in additional elements, additional improvements in the community,” she said.
For more information from the City of Amarillo on the upcoming elections, visit the Amarillo Tax Rate website.