WF business owners weigh in on possible tax increase

WICHITA FALLS, Tx (RNN Texoma) - Polls closed Tuesday for early voting in the Wichita Falls bond election.

If any of the seven bond propositions pass, property taxes will go up.

Henry Florsheim, president of the city's Chamber of Commerce, said from what he has seen, Wichita Falls will be one of the highest taxing cities when compared to towns its size. That is if those propositions pass.

It would mean there would be a 16-cent property tax increase.

Florsheim said that is equivalent to $161 a year on a $100,000 home.

He said if only some of the props get the green light from voters, then the bill is going to be much lower.

Renters could also be paying more if their landlords decide to pass those costs on to them.

Florsheim said business owners are the big property taxpayers. They are going to get hit twice at their stores and homes.

Still, some said they are willing to pay the price to grow their city, while others said it is not in their budget.

One of those who is for the props is Dodie Robey.

Robey is what some might call a newcomer to downtown Wichita Falls.

She has been there for about six months and hopes to see her store, Dodie's Closet, thrive.  She believes passing the seven bond propositions can make that happen.

"I just believe it will enhance the city," said Robey. "I mean, I understand that it's going to cost, but anything that's worthwhile is going to cost money."

She feels it is just part of doing business.

"If you want people to come to your store, and you want it to look nice, that's just worth paying the little extra that might incur," she said.

About five blocks away from her is another business owner who sees the possible tax increase the propositions would bring in a different light.

"I mean I can't afford it if it does go up," said Collin Fleischer, Sparky's Speed Shop and Color. "I won't be able to afford it period."

He said he knows a lot of people who are in the same boat.

"I've got two kids.  I've got daycare to pay for.  I've got a house to pay for, a wife to care for, rent to pay here, food to put on the table," said Fleischer.

If Proposition D passes, which would be for a $77 million municipal complex, Fleisher's business would have to relocate.

He said even if that one does not pass, he still is not for the others, adding he feels the projects the bond will fund will not help his shop.

"I don't think it's going to bring any new people in," said Fleischer. "I think people will see how high the taxes are, and it'll keep them away from here," he said.

Florsheim disagrees.

"We got a chance to be a great city and do something that would really help us attract people," said Florsheim.

He adds voters have a choice.

"We can either start to shrink as a city, see the population finally start to go down, which is not what we want, or we invest in ourselves," said Florsheim. "Like all the cities we are competing with are doing and say we are going to make a change here." 

A change that he said is a long time coming.

"The problem in this community is that we've been voting 'no' for 50 years, whether it's at the ballot box or with our policies of not continually upgrading our facilities," he said. "It's a shame that we've gotten to this point."

He believes if the bonds pass, the city's workforce will grow. That means more disposable income for families and more revenue for the city and school districts.

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