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Galveston County
League City City Council
by Garrett Bryce w/photos courtesy League City
Wednesday, October 04, 2017

League City City Council, in a special meeting on Tuesday, voted 5-3, with Mayor Pat Hallisey, Larry Millican and Greg Gripon opposed, to adopt, on first and final reading, a property tax rate of $0.565 per $100 valuation for the 2017 Tax Year.

The city council voted 5-2, with Millican and Gripon opposed, to approve a motion to adopt the tax rate on first and final reading. Council Member Hank Dugie was not yet present at the meeting at the time of the vote.

The council went into lengthy debate regarding the tax rate. The rate of $0.565 had been proposed in September, also following some debate.

Millican said he would not support the motion.

“I believe the tax rate is wrong,” Millican said. “I made that argument when we discussed this the last time, but I believe that it's nothing more than a political ploy to take another half cent off the tax rate when in fact we've just went through a major storm.” Listen (0:56)

He stated that the city had made cuts to the Capital Improvements Plan, which he said included drainage improvements, which were needed.

Council Member Nick Long said he felt the tax rate was still too high.

“I would prefer it to be at the effective tax rate,” Long said. “The CIP is still loaded with projects that we cannot accomplish, that won't be done this year.” Listen (0:54)

However, he said he would vote in favor of the $0.565 rate.

Council Member Todd Kinsey spoke in favor of $0.57 per $100 value.

“I believe we are setting ourselves up for failure if we do not keep the tax rate at the level that it already is,” Kinsey said, noting the possible reassessment of homes damaged during Hurricane Harvey, which likely would result in reduced property values for the city, and reduced revenues. Listen (2:18)

“They can only gain their value back after they're repaired, at 10 percent per year,” he said. “So it's going to be decades before their homes get back to their current level of assessed value.”

Kinsey then made a motion to propose a property tax of $0.57 per $100 valuation. Under state law, the proposal of a property tax rate exceeding the previously proposed rate, the city council must again publish notice and hold public hearings to receive comments on the new rate before it may be adopted. The deadline to adopt the tax rate is October 20. It was determined that a rate could possibly be adopted by October 17 if proposed.

Council Member Hank Dugie, who arrived later in the meeting, said he was “shocked” the city council was holding such a debate.

“We've had months of this discussion,” he said. “We've had plenty of open meetings with this debate, that has taken place.” Listen (2:27)

He said that the proposed rate of $0.565 was the “prudent and wise thing to do.”

Dugie said that the additional half-cent would take approximately $400,000 “from taxpayer pockets.”

“I don't think the city needs $400,000 more dollars to do its business,” he said.

Council Member Dan Becker asked staff to provide the budgeted versus actual expenditures for capital projects during past years. He pointed out that the city on expends a portion of what is budgeted in capital projects.

“How in the world do you think we're going to get to an expenditure of $71.6 million,” Becker said. Listen (6:31)

Hallisey had said that he would support the $0.57 rate, and stated that the city would need to be “very careful” about where it makes cuts in the budget after the storm.

“Whatever happens, we'll move forward,” Hallisey said. “It's not the end of the world, no matter what happens. We're just giving our best guestimate of how to get through this in the best way for the people who live here.” Listen (5:24)

The city council voted 4-4, with Long, Dugie, Becker and Keith Gross opposed, on Kinsey's motion. With the motion failing, the city council returned to the original proposed rate of $0.565.

No other action items were on the agenda. All members were present. Agenda

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