Wichita Falls Residents could notice their property tax rates go up by as much as $0.02 per $100 vale. Tuesday Wichita Falls City Council held the first of its two public hearings to discuss and debate the proposed property tax increase. Only three members of the public were present to voice their opinion about how they felt over the issue.
Outside the council chambers Wichita Falls citizen Roy Stancliff publicly protested against a tax hike.
"I'm protesting higher taxes and I would look at the tax payers like myself I'm a poor man. And the City could give more consideration to that and to what they actually spend the revenue on that they take from the citizens. I just can't stay the entire time I have to get to work," said Stancliff.
As Stancliff left to begin his 8:30a.m. shift, Mayor Glenn Barham declared the public hearing open. First to speak was Marion Stade of Wichita Falls, who asked questions that confirmed the proposed increase would be used to give public employees a pay increase.
Following Stade's questions and comments, was Wichita Falls Firefighter Bobby Whiteley. He expressed his concern that Wichita Falls Firefighters are making an estimated 12% less than than other towns of similar size.
"We've lost a couple firefighters to Fort Worth we're losing another firefighter put his resignation in the last week. He's leaving here for a $15,000 pay increase to another city," said Whiteley.
WFFD was not the only public department that is well below the pay grade. Wichita Falls Police Sergeant William Haisten spoke about some of the current pay problems for the police force.
"It is difficult when you're in the bottom third of comparable cities to say that we are offering this and we are offering that and it's right there in black and white and they can see what is being offered," said Haisten.
After Sergeant Haisten finished speaking Mayor Barham opened the floor for comments from council members. District 4 Represenative Tim Ingle was the first to speak, proposing that the increase be subsidized through cuts to the general fund.
"Honor the employees that work and not take it out on the citizens who we just did the water increase. So I'm not in favor of the tax increase I voted against the last proposal," said Ingle.
Mayor Barham spoke up taking on the full responsibility for the issue.
"I'm the one that proposed the $0.02 increase in the tax rate as I said earlier to give us some wiggle room to discuss whether or not we would give our employees an additional pay raise," said Barham
At-Large Councilor Mike Smith said he was supportive of an increase.
"You've heard from two of our employee groups there is a need to attract and keep our employees," said Smith.
District 1 Councilor Ben Hoover supported a middle ground approach of imposing a $0.01 increase while subsidizing the other half of the general fund.
"Could we as Tim proposed look within the budget and see if there's room there to get to the two percent without the $0.02 tax increase," said Hoover.
The city council will host its second public hearing regarding the proposed tax increase next Tuesday September 9th.