Council proposes keeping current tax rate

In preparation for a series of public hearings after receiving the preliminary budget for next year, the Cameron City Council voted Tuesday night to keep the current tax rate.
Overall, taxable property in the city increased in value with this year’s appraisals, City Secretary Amy Harris explained, and more revenue will be generated from the same tax rate of 75.90 cents per $100 property valuation.
According to figures from the Milam Appraisal District, this year’s tax base is $157,446,015 - up from last year’s base of $155,657,268. 
“Because there is an increase in tax revenue (even though the property tax rate remains the same), public hearings will be required before adopting the rate and approving the budget,” Harris noted.
City Manager Rhett Parker presented the preliminary budget in a workshop session that included council members, administrative staff and all the city department heads.
At the council’s first meeting in September, scheduled Tuesday, Sept. 8 due to the Labor Day Holiday, public hearings will be held on the proposed tax rate and budget.
Second public hearings will be held in a special meeting set for Sept. 14. The meeting for a council vote on the proposed tax rate and budget will be held Sept. 21.
According to a statement on the certified tax rolls released by the Milam Appraisal District, taxable values increased 3.5 percent over 2014.
That number is relatively small, and hides the fact that there were some really large changes in value, Chief Appraiser Dyann White noted.
Oil and gas property values fell over $53 million in the county. White said this was the result of lower prices per barrel in today’s market.
White noted the decrease in oil and gas property value was offset by an increase of $111 million in real estate and business personal property value.
The 2015 appraisal of the Luminant/Sandow properties accounts for $30 million of the increase in value. The rest of the increase is due primarily to land and home values.
Most other taxing entities increased an average of 3.3 percent.
Some exceptions White noted include:
• Gause ISD lost 24 percent of their taxable value due to reductions in oil & gas values.
• Buckholts ISD lost just over 6.5 percent of their taxable value due to decreases in commercial and business personal property values.
• Bartlett ISD lost 10 percent of their taxable value due to a high number of protests filed in that area.
• Rosebud/Lott ISD taxable value increased by 103 percent. In addition to increases in real estate market values, value increased due to power lines that are being added by Oncor in the northeast portion of the county.
See Page 2
Elm Creek Watershed values increased 36 percent. They benefited from Oncor’s additional power lines as well.
Pending voter approval, the 2015 Legislature approved a $10,000 increase in Residential Homestead Exemptions given by Texas school districts. Prior to this change, a homestead exemption reduced a homeowner’s school tax value by $15,000. Now it will reduce the value by $25,000. The amount of tax savings will be printed on the 2015 tax bills. In addition to the increase in exemption amount, homeowners that have a “freeze” due to age or disability will have their school tax amounts decreased equal to what the savings would have been if the exemption was $25,000 in the year in which their freeze was determined.