City Out Of Debt, Your Property Tax Lower Because Of It

We all dread balancing that checkbook, but we do it anyway. But it must really be a chore for East Texas cities, most of them millions of dollars in debt. But one East Texas city is different.

With the stroke of a pen, it was done--the last check the city of Tyler will owe to the Bank Of New York Trust was signed.  It's a celebration by city leaders today for what voters approved more than 10 years ago--a half cent increase on their sales tax.

"You see the big signs all around the city, this project paid for in cash, unheard of in city government in the state of Texas," said Senator Kevin Eltife.

A pay-as-you-go plan for the city, using cash, not bonds, to pay for more than 100 million dollars in city improvements, including streets, Faulkner Park, Glass Recreation Center, even the Tyler Pounds Regional Airport.

"It's incredibly remarkable," Eltife said.

But what's even more remarkable is what it has done for property taxes, cutting them in half, to one of the lowest rates in the state.

"There are no other cities our size that can say that in Texas," said Tyler City Mayor Joey Seeber.

It's a seemingly magical formula. So why aren't other cities following suit?

"A lot of cities and counties already use the sales tax option for other things, economic development, buy down the property tax rate," said Eltife.

But those that haven't are looking to Tyler as a model.

"I know cities from across the state have looked at what we've done and really it is a model, I mean, anytime government can pay cash for improvements and not borrow money, you're saving tax payers a lot of money," Eltife said.

And we all know that is reason to celebrate.

Other Texas cities like Longview use their half-cent sales tax increase purely for economic development. On the other hand, Mesquite actually held an election based off the Tyler model.

Tracy Watler Reporting,