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Council ponders implications of revenue caps

Thursday, February 7, 2019 by Jack Craver

Deputy Chief Financial Officer Ed Van Eenoo was the bearer of bad news Tuesday at a City Council work session. Council should not expect the budget process this year to be as easy as it was last year, he said. That would be the case even if the state Legislature does not impose the stringent local government revenue restrictions that Gov. Greg Abbott and other GOP leaders have promised. Under the proposal backed by Abbott, local governments would be allowed to collect a maximum of 2.5 percent more in property tax year-over-year, down from the current maximum of 8 percent. Any increase above 2.5 percent would need voter approval. Council members agreed that the community must speak out against the measure, which they said would devastate city services while providing very little tax relief. They also agreed, however, that the city needs to brace for tough times. Council Member Jimmy Flannigan said it would be even more important for Council to make tough decisions about how to allocate dollars, including by disappointing groups or stakeholders that have come to expect funding for certain programs. Council Member Pio Renteria said that the city might have to pull back on incentives for businesses, suggesting that move might force Republican legislative leaders to reconsider their decision. Council Member Greg Casar said the “forced austerity” from the state means the city would be focused on “mitigating hurt” to existing programs, rather than doing more to help those in need.

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