While many Lubbock residents are focused on the city’s proposal for a tax increase, Lubbock County Commissioners Court is proposing a 1.7 cent tax increase for fiscal year 2015-2016. They hope to raise $3 million… in addition to the $4 million in surplus revenues the county is already forecasted to receive this year.
Commissioners say their intention is to increase salaries for county employees and elected officials and to provide additional funding for the sheriff’s office.
The proposal was made at the court’s August 10th meeting and would change the rate from 34.1 cents to 35.8 cents per $100 property valuation. According to County Auditor Jackie Latham, should it pass, the county would add approximately $3 million in revenue annually.
What’s concerning many about the tax increase, however, is the fact that the county is expecting to collect approximately $4 million in additional revenue this year regardless of an increase in the tax rate.
The $4 million is derived mostly of additional property tax revenue due to appraisals, while a smaller portion is from a 5.94% increase in sales tax revenue.
So, why ask for more?
County officials claim that a salary increase is needed in order to offset high cost of living. Oddly enough, cost of living increases are often a direct result of decisions made by the same elected officials. Whether in favor of a salary increase or not, it should be covered by the additional $4 million in sales and property tax revenue already being brought in by the county.
In addition, County Sheriff Kelly Rowe has requested 1.1 million to aid his office in combatting an increased presence of drugs, specifically narcotics, and gangs in the area. His request includes funding for a massive personnel expansion including an additional narcotics team, a gang intelligence and suppression unit, an additional investigator, and two more SWAT members.
Public safety should absolutely be a priority for the county, however, commissioners should be capable of using the additional property and sales tax revenue to fulfill Rowe’s request too – without taking more money from hardworking taxpayers.
As Lubbock resident and KCBD General Manager Dan Jackson said, “Businesses and families can’t magically create additional income by taking from someone else. Why should government? Don’t penalize homeowners because the county can’t balance its checkbook.”
The commissioner’s court will be hosting a public hearing on August 20th at 10:15am at the county courthouse.