Gonzales City Council formally adopted its new tax rate and budget for fiscal year 2019-20 Thursday Sept. 12. Beginning Oct. 1, the city will hold a tax rate of 33.8 cents per $100 of valuation. The newly adopted rate is the calculated rollback rate, or the highest the city could have set its rate without risk of a recall election. The new rate is a slight increase from the previous year’s rate. On property valued at $100,000, the rate will increase city taxes by $2.75 per month.
The city was faced with little resistance—at least in terms of public comment—during its multiple budget and tax rate public hearings. Only one resident, Dale Schellenberg, spoke out against the increase at the Sept. 12 meeting.
“I cautioned you that the trust of these citizens of Gonzales might be in jeopardy if you choose to adopt a new tax rate this soon after the rollback was just done,” Schellenberg said. “Although I understand an increase would be legal, I find it highly unethical considering your timing.”
The rollback election Schellenberg referenced occurred in March and failed with 422 voting for the rate, 315 voting against.
Even with the increase, Gonzales is still among the lowest tax rates in the region and state at large. The newly adopted 33.8 cents is below the state average of 51 cents.
The new rate and budget are intended to address some of the areas neglected by previous city administrations.
“For so many years, even in those little increases when we’ve gone down below 20 cents, our infrastructure suffered,” Councilman Bobby O’Neal said. “Even still today, our infrastructure is not where it needs to be. But again, I don’t like taxes more than anyone else but I’m voting in favor of it.”
Built into the new budget is over $7 million into current and deferred infrastructure projects. Also added to the budget is a capital improvement plan which budgets funding for long-term projects such as sidewalk and curb repairs, golf course irrigation system, electric meters, parking improvements downtown and a new fire station.
“I don’t like taxes any more than Councilman O’Neal, but it is how our government is intended to run and that is how we generate our revenue and how we deliver services to our citizenry,” Mayor Connie Kacir said. “We have to be sustainable and take care of our city and take care of all of our citizens.”