Council sets new tax rate, kinda
Two legally required tasks of our city council are to approve an annual budget and adopt a property tax rate to fund the budget. The city council stepped through the first few steps of this process by accepting the certified tax valuations from the county appraiser, adopted a maximum tax rate, and scheduled a public hearing to hear comments on the 2017 City Budget for October 10. The council is expected to adopt the annual budget at a meeting on October 17.
Maximum tax rate adopted
The maximum tax rate adopted last night was is 31.68 cents per $100 value; last year’s rate was 33.179 cents per $100 value. Because of the 7.79% increase in property values, this tax rate reduction still would result in a tax increase.
But it is likely the rate ultimately adopted by the city council on October 17 will be lower than the maximum rate the city council adopted last night. Last night’s action started the legally required process mandated by state law to adopt a budget and set a tax rate.
The council met in Executive Session (not open to public) to discuss pending and threatened litigation. The focus of the meeting was believed to be a lawsuit filed by AT&T against the West University Place Zoning Board of Adjustment regarding the ZBA’s recent ruling limiting the operation of the AT&T’s facility on Bellaire Blvd.
The ZBA is a quasi-judicial body that hears appeals from administrative decisions, grants special exceptions and variances, and interprets the intent of the zoning ordinance. An affected party has the right to appeal the decision directly to State District Court, and AT&T did that.
The ZBA has no budget or litigation authority. So the decisions about litigation and any related costs are decided by the city council and the associated costs are borne by West U taxpayers.
Future agenda items
The city council decided to ask for bids for a new city newspaper. State law requires West U to annually adopt an official newspaper to publish each ordinance, notice, or other matter required by law or ordinance to be published. The current official newspaper is the West University Examiner, a newspaper recently purchased by the Houston Chronicle.
At the city council meeting on September 26, there will be a workshop presentation by the Facilities Master Plan Task Force.