Diboll tax rate increasing

Diboll City Council has set the 2014 property tax rate at 59 cents per $100 valuation – the first tax-rate hike in three years.
The rate, which council approved Monday, Aug. 18, will not be official until the council holds two public hearings – 5:15 p.m. Monday, Aug. 15 and 5:15 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2 – and then approves it at 5:15 p.m. Monday, Sept. 8.
The rate is about 2.3 cents per $100 valuation over last year’s tax rate. The taxable value of the average Diboll private residence is $77,878, so the increase would mean about $22 more a year in taxes.
“Several unbudgeted expenditures in the General Fund have greatly depleted our surplus re-serves,” Finance Director Elvia Esteves-Garza wrote in a memo to City Council. “Projected loss-es for the 2014 year are over $550,000, which brings our reserves down to approximately $375,000, which is well under the council’s 25 percent reserve requirement.
“The city is unable to support similar losses in the 2015 budget year,” she continued.
Last year, the council passed an ordinance requiring the city to keep three month’s operating costs in reserve – the 25 percent Esteves-Garza mentioned. That reserve fund should be about $900,000.
“This year’s budget reflects a $36,000 net,” Esteves-Garza said. “If all goes as budgeted, this will keep us from going into our surplus deeper and add $36,000 to it for next year. But it will still not get us to the 25 percent target.”
According to Esteves-Garza, unbudgeted expenditures from last fiscal year include:
* $23,000 worth of various projects, including fencing, rubber mulch, tree removal, replacement of cemetery entrance;
* $67,000 worth of street improvements that were not covered by the bond issue;
* $20,000 worth of workers comp insurance for police reserves. (City had unknowingly not been covering them);
* $22,000 in net garbage expenditures;
* $25,000 in legal fees;
* $40,000 in surveying and design fees for the City Hall/Safety center expansion project;