Property tax bills in Amarillo may soon rise again, as the Amarillo City Council considers approving a new tax increase.

This week, council members voted to advance a proposed 2-cent property tax rate increase, which would raise the tax rate to $0.38851 per $100 valuation. The tax rate would include roughly 4 cents levied for debt service on various bond-funded and debt-backed projects. The proposed tax rate passed on a 4-1 vote, with councilwoman Elaine Hays voting against the proposal. If adopted, this will mark yet another year that a tax increase has been approved by the city council, as council voted unanimously to approve an increase in 2018.

The proposed property tax rate is higher than the “effective” tax rate, also called the “no-new-revenue” rate, the rate at which roughly the same revenue would be collected from property taxed in both the current and previous tax year. Regardless of the tax rate adopted in any given year, a taxing entity would still collect new tax revenue from growth and economic development.

At least five cities are already proposing the “effective” tax rate or lower—Colleyville, Southlake, Keller, Plano, and Wylie among them.

Amarillo’s council voted to raise taxes by about 1.8 percent last year. In that vote, all of the incumbent members, including Hays, voted to approve the tax increase.

Following the proposal of this year’s tax increase, the City of Amarillo issued a press release stating that, if approved, the tax increase would create 10 positions at the Amarillo Fire Department and three new positions at the Amarillo Animal Management and Welfare Department. Both of those items were already mandated by voter approval of public safety bond issues in 2016, the statement said.

Public hearings on the proposed increase are scheduled for September 3 and September 10. Formal votes will be taken on September 17 and September 24.

Thomas Warren

Thomas Warren, III is the editor-in-chief of the Amarillo Pioneer newspaper in Amarillo, Texas.

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