WF City Council Approves Property Tax Increase

The Wichita Falls City Council approved the 2010-11 budget Tuesday. That budget includes a 2 cent per $100 in assessed value property tax hike. That increase is expected to bring in $880,000 which will be spent on street repairs.

No members of the public spoke out on the proposed budget before councilors passed it.

The vote was not unanimous; District 3 Councilor Rick Hatcher was the lone dissenting voice. Hatcher had publicly opposed the tax hike and the budget in previous meetings. Hatcher said he feels the city should wait until the economy improves and more tax revenue is coming in to fund the infrastructure work.

"My thought," Hatcher said, "would simply be to change the date on the capital improvement plan. It goes on forever."

District 1 Councilor Michael Smith summed up the view of most on the council. We "have to step up to the plate, have to bite the bullet and say it's time to fix some of this stuff," he said.

The total budget for the 2010-11 fiscal year comes to $146.1 million. That's $5 million more than the current budget. But, city staff said that is a little misleading. Both City Manager Darron Leiker  and Assistant City Manager/CFO Jim Dockery said some of that increase is due to over $1 million dollars in additional grants coming in, around $1.3 million for Castaway Cove and the infrastructure improvements. Leiker said, if you disregard those items, this budget actually comes in under the last one.

In addition to the 2 cent increase in property tax, city residents will see a four percent hike in water and sewage rates. That should bring in around $800,000 for water line replacement and $400,00 for sewer lines. City residents will also see a $1.80 increase in the Storm Water Utility Fee. That will provide an additional $1.4 million for storm water improvement projects.

City officials also said the new budget includes around $800,000 in cuts due to attrition of city positions. Fifteen positions weren't filled when vacated.

Tim Barnosky, Newschannel6.