Despite record economic growth and higher-than-expected sales tax increases, the city of Lubbock says it needs to raise residents’ property taxes next year in order to collect enough money to fund its spending plans.

As local talk radio host Chad Hasty notes, the city is proposing a lower tax rate, but homeowners will still pay higher tax bills:

Overall, the proposed budget calls for a four cent decrease in the property tax rate, but Lubbock taxpayers would still pay more in taxes by $40.07 for the average single family home. During his presentation, City Manager Jarrett Atkinson said that the No New Revenue Rate would not work.

The no-new-revenue rate is a property tax rate calculated to produce the same amount of tax revenue this year if applied to the same properties taxed last year, enabling the public to compare year-to-year tax burdens.

Unless the tax rate is lowered enough to offset rising property values, average homeowners must pay higher property tax bills.

Any property tax rate higher than the no-new-revenue rate is a tax increase.

Yet Atkinson said the no-new-revenue rate would collect “$1.3 million less than a year ago.”

The Lubbock City Council scheduled a series of work sessions this week to review the proposed budget and tax rate for 2022-23.

At the proposed rate, property tax levies would increase by $4.2 million (5.6 percent)—$3 million from new properties added to the tax rolls (which are not included in the NNRR calculation) and $1.2 million from existing properties.

The proposed operating budget of $275 million represents a 5.4 percent spending increase and includes 5 percent average pay raises for city employees, plus 7 percent raises for police and 12 percent increases for fire rescue employees.

The city also proposes spending $5.1 million in federal COVID relief funds to build three “splash pads.”

Debt repayment spending is expected to drop by 4.3 percent to $41 million. However, council members are also set to consider another bond proposition for the ballot this November, after a $175 million street bond package failed last year. The bond debt would have to be repaid, with interest, by local property taxpayers.

Two more budget meetings are scheduled for Wednesday and Thursday at 2:00 p.m. and are open to the public. Meeting information and videos are posted online.

Lubbock residents can contact the mayor, city council, and city manager with questions or comments.

Other cities across Texas are also in the process of setting budgets and property tax rates. Citizens are encouraged to contact their local officials and attend public hearings.

Erin Anderson

Erin Anderson is a Senior Journalist for Texas Scorecard, reporting on state and local issues, events, and government actions that impact people in communities throughout Texas and the DFW Metroplex. A native Texan, Erin grew up in the Houston area and now lives in Collin County.