The tax rate increases possible for some East Texas residents

By Layron Livingston - bio | email

TYLER, TX (KLTV) - The first of two Tyler Junior College public hearings appeared to go over well with the audience.  TJC board members hosted the hearing Thursday morning to discuss the nearly 8 percent property tax increase facing residents living within the TJC tax district.

"Nobody wants to see higher taxes," said Dr. Mike Metke, president of TJC.  But Metke said it's an investment people are willing to make.  He said the the college is already having to shut down classes due to power outages and other failing infrastructure systems.  He said that is unacceptable.  Especially as more people look to TJC during tough times.

"We're overrun," he said.  "If you walk outside, you'll see that people desperately need to come back to college."

In Troup, city officials said they are considering increasing property tax rates nearly 20 cents.

Mayor John Whitsell said property valuations went down nearly $10.5 million from the previous year.  Adding insult to injury, other city projects need to be addressed.  The Texas Commission on Environment Quality has mandated one of the city's water towers be replaced.

"Any new businesses we can attract, any new homes we can build, anything we can do to add to that total valuation will help bring that tax rate down," said Whitsell.

In Jacksonville, Mayor Robert Haberle said he's not excited about a proposed, nearly 2 and a half cent tax rate increase.

"I'm a tax payer too."  Haberle said sales tax numbers are up, but the city lost nearly $10 million in tax valuations due to loss industry.  During a previous administration, he said residents approved a nearly $8 million street project, as well as 15 percent raises for city firefighters.  He said the money has to come from somewhere.

"Over a period of time, we've reached back into the savings account to the point where the savings account has come to critical levels," he said.  If the council approves the increase, Haberle said it could bring in nearly $110,000 in additional revenue.

Daniel Crawford, director of finance for the city of Tyler, said, fortunately, Tyler's property tax rates are staying right where they are.  "We are debt free," he said.

Crawford said times are tough for everyone.  The city has several vacant positions it plans to keep vacant until the economy turns around.  Crawford said the city's half cent sales tax is also one way it has paid for road, parks, and community recreation projects.  He said for now, things are stable.

The city of Jacksonville will hold hearings on its proposed rate Sept. 1 and Sept. 8 at 6 p.m. at the Norman Activity Center.

TJC will hold another public hearing Aug. 20 on campus.  It will start at 11:00 a.m. inside the board room in the White Administrative Services Center.

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