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City council to adopt tax rate

September 10, 2012

The city administration will recommend the Big Spring City Council move forward with the published effective tax rate when it meets Tuesday evening, forcing the municipality to absorb a tax foul-up in the coming year estimated at $130,000.
The proposed tax rate — the rate published by the city and certified by the Howard County Appraisal District — is 86.5043 cents per $100 property valuation.
However, due to a mistake made by the appraisal district in accounting for the values of property appraisals currently being protested, the rate that would bring in the same amount of tax revenue collected last year — known as the effective rate — is now being estimated at 88.8275 cents per $100 property valuation.
City Finance Director Peggy Walker said the city is running out of time to adopt its tax rate for 2012-2013, and though the problem was created by a mistake on the part of the Howard County Appraisal District, there's no way to make the necessary changes in time.
“By law, we have to have our tax rate in place by the end of September,” Walker said. “Any time you go above the effective tax rate, there are a number of steps you have to follow or risk having the matter end up in court. And while we've established the correct effective rate is 88.82 cents, legally we're still bound to go by the rate published by the appraisal district, which is 86.5 cents.
“To go with the correct rate, which is above the published effective rate, we'd have to have a council vote saying we're looking at going above the effective rate, then have the vote and the effective rate published. After that, you are required to hold two public hearings on the matter. Unfortunately, there's no way to get all of that done before the Sept. 30 deadline. Therefore, the city administration's recommendation to the council is going to be to adopt the 86.5043 cents per $100 valuation.”
Walker said the budgetary shortfall — which has been estimated at $134,694 — will have to come out of the city's general fund.
Tuesday's meeting will begin at 5:30 p.m. in council chambers.

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