WF handcuffed on financing options for bond issue

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Tuesday and Wednesday Wichita Falls city staff and council rolled up their sleeves and came to an agreement on a possible bond proposal for the May election. It would include six propositions worth $131 million.

"You have to look at what you would be receiving in return for those dollars," Deputy City Manager, Jim Dockery said.

If all six were passed, it would mean a 16 cent increase for property owners, which would cost $160 a year on a $100,000 home.

But raising the property tax rate wasn't necessarily their first option. Dockery said they liked the idea of a penny to the dollar sales tax increase, but they're at their statutory limit. That means they can't raise it due to state law.

"We would have to eliminate sales tax that we're already using for enticement of economic development," he said. "And we want to keep those taxes to continue doing what we've done in the last several years."

A penny to the dollar sales tax would mean for every dollar used to buy gas or groceries, a penny of it would go towards projects on the bond.

What about money from the tax base?

"We don't have that luxury in Wichita Falls," Dockery said. "We have a pretty static tax base that we have to use to generate revenue."

Dockery said both issues are reasons why the city is limited in what they can do. But he wants voters to know some projects will pay for themselves and most need to be done.

"Yes they're tax dollars," he said. "But they're tax dollars that are going to be put to use for the citizens that live here."

Dockery said the stagnant tax base is why the county, city, and school district have to issue bond proposals for large projects.

Mayor Stephen Santellana said he feels like the city is handcuffed due to the state's law on sales tax and added he could do a lot with an extra penny on their sales tax rate.

For more information on the proposed bond projects, click here.

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