Council lowers tax rate by 6%

Jay Hinton
Glen Rose Reporter

GLEN ROSE — For the first time in nearly a decade, the Glen Rose City Council has lowered the tax rate.

In a specially called meeting on Sept. 7, the council, which included Dee Conrad, Dennis Moore, Kelly Harris and Chip Joslin, dropped the tax rate to .35979738 cents per $100 valuation, down from .384074 where it stood since 2013.

All four members voted in favor of the new tax rate that represents a 6.37% change for the better over the prior year.

“Glen Rose has a significantly lower property tax rate than any of the surrounding cities and offers more homestead exemptions than do those cities,” Glen Rose City Administrator Michael Leamons said. “Glen Rose city councils, past and present, should be applauded for watching out for the interests of its property taxpaying citizens.”

Glen Rose City Administrator Michael Leamons

Prior to this year, the last drop in the tax rate came in 2013 when the council lowered the rate from .39521 to .384074. In 2008, the tax rate was .4309.

Last year, the city provided relief to city property taxpayers by providing a 20% exemption for all homestead owners and increased the homestead exemption for citizens over 65 from $25,000 to $50,000, Leamons said.

In 2020, the average homestead taxable value was $165,733, and in 2021, the average rose to $186,444. In 2020, the tax on an average homestead was $636.54, and in 2021 it was $670.45, a difference of $33.91.

In 2020, the total levy on all city properties — based on figures established by the Somervell County Appraisal District — accounted for $732,748 while in 2021, the amount rose to $781,779, a difference of just less than $49,000. Because of that, the city was able to drop the tax rate and still have the funds to deliver services such as street maintenance, street lighting, law enforcement, building inspections, code enforcement and animal control.

The rate of inflation, however, will continue to be a concern especially when lowering the tax rate, Leamons said. If inflation increases overall operation costs by too much, the city may not be able to raise the taxes enough to fight inflation.

“The long-term effects of lowering the tax rate does cause some concern due to the 3.5% cap recently imposed by the state legislature. Having lived through the 1970s, I know that inflation can run much higher than 3.5% for an extended period of time. In fact, it appears we are already experiencing an elevated bout of inflation,” Leamons said.

“Eventually, something will have to give,” he said. “The legislature should have tied their property tax cap to the Consumer Price Index to allow that cap to adjust in the face of inflation.”

For now, the increase in property values as well as state sale tax allocations and increased housing construction going on in the city, Leamons said the city is in a very sound financial position.

In its Aug. 24 meeting, the city council adopted the budget as well as ratified the tax rate. By law, the tax rate needs to be ratified before the council can approve the budget. The budget: $4,050,574 (general fund); $4,086,387 (utility fund); $400,000 (CVB fund); $24,658 (municipal court).

Conrad, Harris and Joslin voted in favor of the 2021-22 budget.