Council votes 5-1 on proposed hike of property taxes
By DAVID MORRIS
Copperas Cove City Councilman Mark Peterson officially proposed a tax rate increase from the current rate of $0.7774 to $0.79 per $100 of assessed property value during a special meeting Thursday evening inside council chambers at the Economic Development Corporation.
“$0.79 gives us some flexibility, however I prefer to keep it at $0.774,” councilman Jim Schmitz said during the discussion. “We always hear that we have the highest tax rate in the Fort Hood area and other cities aren’t increasing the tax rate like we are. We are in competition with the sister cities for homeowners and we aren’t seeing the growth we thought we would.”
The city of Killeen has an effective tax rate of $0.73, Harker Heights is $0.64, while Gatesville's is $0.2406. The 2013 tax rates for the cities were; Gatesville $0.41, Copperas Cove $0.774, Harker Heights $0.667, Killeen $0.7428, all per $100 of assessed value of the properties.
The average homestead in Copperas Cove assesses at $107,373 and the proposed tax rate of $0.79 would raise an average of 848.25 per homestead.
The effective tax rate is set at $0.7517 with the average homestead collecting $805.29 in taxes for the city. The current tax rate of 0.774 would raise $834.72 per home.
Finance Director Ryan Haverlah addressed the council asking them to take a record vote on what rate to propose.
“For $794 a homestead receives police and fire protection, EMS readiness, parks they can frequent, library resources, animal control and street maintenance,” he said. “Those are the big things the citizens can use without having to pay anything else for them. In comparison you can watch a movie a month for two people at $192, cable TV and internet services for a year would consume the full amount of what it costs in property taxes for city services.”
For every penny on the tax rate the city collects $114,320, the proposed tax rate increase of $0.79 will collect just over $9 million in revenue for the city.
“The problem I see is that in 2006, we lowered the tax rate and we went almost four years which got us in trouble,” said Marty Smith. “I know its high but its not that high. To cleanup our parks and make them better we have to do something and I think our city is growing so fast that we aren’t keeping up with our services for the population.”
Calling the roll for a vote, all were in agreement of the proposed tax rate hike except for Schmitz who requested the rate remain the same as the current rate.
“I like good paying jobs and good services and we all like lower taxes,” said Gary Kent. “In order to have all those things we like we have to make sure we stay pace keeping in mind that some are exempt from taxes and those funds have to come from somewhere.”
Council set two dates for pubic hearings on the proposed tax increase with the first set for Aug. 12 at 5 p.m. and a second to follow on Aug. 19 at 6 p.m. both in the council chambers at the Economic Development Corporation. The date for the council to adopt the rate is September 2 at 6 p.m.