Final Meeting Before W.F Tax Vote

Wichita Falls City Councilors met Tuesday morning for the second of two required meetings before they can vote to raise your property taxes.

At the first meeting on September 4, not one person stepped up to speak for or against the one cent tax hike, but it was a different story on Tuesday.

Five people spoke during the public hearing, with three explicitly addressing the tax issue. Jean Hall expressed her feelings about any kind of tax raise. She said, "I'm generally opposed to tax increases. I think the government should leave the citizens to spend their own money as they choose.

Hall also addressed this specific raise, saying, "I'm particularly against this tax increase because it comes at a very bad time in the economy and because the reasons that they're putting forward are not essentials."

But city officials said they need help with projects that will help the community. The nearly half a million dollars that would be generated by the increase will go toward funding three major projects. Those include the new airport terminal, increased mowing for city highway and more code enforcement officers to monitor private property.

Wichita Falls Mayor Glenn Barham said this was just the right time to reach out for extra funds. He said, "We always want to save money when we can but there comes projects that we just have to reach out to the community to fund and that's what's happened this year. We've got some projects that need to be taken care of  and from comments we've received from members of the public, these are projects that they feel like need to be done.

Residents like Jean Hall disagree. "The city should have to do the same thing that private citizens do and make choices. They need to set priorities and figure out what's the most worthwhile and take care of those and when the money runs out they stop spending. Save money in one place if you want to spend it somewhere else."

Still, very few people spoke, making it hard to argue that citizens don't want these projects to move forward, and don't mind paying for them.

Barham said, "When you hear from 4 folks it's hard to judge the entire community based on four people expressing a negative opinion or maybe even a positive opinion, but four folks appealing out may sway some of the councilors opinions. It may not, I don't know I can't speak for the rest of the council."

The new property tax rate will be officially proposed and voted on next Tuesday during the regular meeting. After the proposal is made residents will have one final opportunity to speak to the council before they vote.

Jack Lamson, Newschannel 6