Public mute on city’s proposed tax hike
By Dave Rogers
For The Record
Orange City Council held its first public hearing on its first proposed tax hike in four years Tuesday and no one stepped forward to comment for or against.
The council has set a proposed tax rate of 71.774 cents per $100 valuation, which is up nearly a penny from 70.940 cents per $100 valuation and an effective tax hike of 6.23 percent.
But the average home in the city of Orange has gone up in value 6 percent since 2016 and the effective tax rate – the tax rate that would bring in the same amount of money this year as last, is 67.566 cents per $100 valuation.
Last year, 70.940 was the effective tax rate.
With Shawn Oubre, Orange’s city manager, having cited a 28 percent increase in employee health insurance premiums over 2016-17 and a desire to award city employees a 2 percent cost of living raise, the city is seeking a tax hike to help offset the difference.
A second and final public hearing on the tax rate is set for 9 a.m. Sept. 12. The city council is scheduled to vote up or down on the tax increase at its 5:30 p.m. Sept. 26 meeting, the final one before the start of the new 2017-18 budget year.
Because the proposed tax rate is higher than the effective tax rate, council members were required to conduct a roll call vote.
Actually, they voted unanimously for the 71.774 cents per $100 raise in a roll call vote Aug. 8, but they were forced to repeat the action Tuesday.
All seven council members voted for the raise Tuesday.
They had to repeat votes for four tax-related motions they approved Aug. 8 because a bookkeeping error by the Orange County Appraisal District caused a revision in the effective tax rate.
The do-over raised the effective tax rate from 66.937 to 67.566 cents per $100.
In other action, council members approved amending the budget for the almost completed budget year to reflect accurate expenditures and revenues.
This was the latest of several revisions approved during the year. Tuesday’s figures reflected an increase of nearly $3 million, from the $42.8 million budget council approved in September 2016, to a total of $45.7 million.
That means budget predictions were off by $2.9 million, nearly 7 percent.
On the positive side, Public Works Director Jim Wolf reported spending to be under budget on a couple of projects, the water treatment plant, and the new water tower.