Dilley City Council At Work – August 29

Dilley proposes a tax rate for Fiscal Year 2016-2017

Dilley City Hall, 2016
Dilley City Hall, 2016

Dilley city council held a special meeting on August 29th, proposing to keep the tax rate at its current rate of $0.802301 per $100.

Finance Administrator/Interim City Manager Irma Rodriguez opened the discussion by proposing a 3 cent raise from last year’s rate to match the current rollback tax rate of $0.838560. The rollback rate is calculated using a year to year comparison of Maintenance and Operation (M&O) taxes, effective tax rates, and debt. The effective tax rate is calculated by a comparison of year to year appraisal rolls.

Rodriguez made her reasoning clear. “I would recommend the $0.838560, especially if we’re going to consider going with the certificates of obligation,” she said, referring to a loan of up to 3 million dollars the City of Dilley will be voting on in the coming weeks.

Mayor Pro-Tem Ray Aranda asked a question. “How much more would [the tax rate] generate going up 3 cents?”

“$49,716,” answered City Secretary Juanita Gonzalez.

“So you’re suggesting what then?” Esmeralda Cano asked Aranda.

“I was just wanting to know the difference between last year’s to this… to the rollback rate,” he answered.

Rodriguez pointed out that a 3 cent raise this year would raise more money than a 3 cent raise the previous year due to a significant raise in taxable value, and she again expressed concern about new debt.

Councilwoman Joanna Olivarez added that there were “many improvements coming up and 3 cents is not that extreme.” Councilwoman Morelsa Aranda made a motion to adopt the 83 cent tax rate. The motion was followed by silence until Ray Aranda asked for more calculations, and the conversation took a turn.

“Three cents might not make a difference, but to some of the elderly, it does. And we were just compared in the paper, our tax rate is a lot higher than other cities.”

Cano countered, “our tax rate is higher, but also compare the type of service and how our infrastructure is compared to other cities that have a lower tax rate.”

After more calculations, Cano made the motion to keep the tax rate at the current rate. The motion passed unanimously.

In today’s Frio-Nueces Current, Pearsall City Manager Charles Jackson offered some context for the tax rates. Pearsall proposed a 28 cent increase, while Dilley proposed no increase. However, according to Jackson, for the current fiscal year, Dilley charges 109% of the rollback tax rate, while Pearsall is at 57%. Even after Pearsall’s proposed raise, they will be at 86% of their rollback rate. If Dilley’s proposed tax rate is adopted for the upcoming fiscal year, they will be at 96% of the rollback rate.

Conspicuously absent from the meeting:

  • A proposed budget for FY 2016-2017
  • The PoliceJust a few weeks after Dilley City Council voted for a town hall meeting on the possibility of the Dilley Police Department’s “consolidation” with the Frio County Sheriff, no date has been set or advertised. The city has been silent on the issue since it was raised at the August 9th council meeting, even choosing not to comment to the Frio-Nueces Current. There has been a police presence in every city council meeting for months but maybe they were asked to sit this meeting out… It’s not like their presence is merely ceremonial, as they were needed to make an arrest at a city council meeting as recently as July 14th. Perhaps their absence is why the City of Dilley did not include public comments on the August 29th agenda.
  • Public Comments. Public comments were not on the agenda and the city certainly didn’t make the offer during proceedings.

Absent, but not conspicuous:

Visual Aides/ over-communicating – I was feeling a bit of envy after visiting Pearsall’s City Hall on their budget/tax night. Their meeting had ended but this information was displayed for people in attendance.

Visual aides at Pearsall's budget and tax meeting.
Visual aides at Pearsall’s budget and tax meeting.

In defense of the the Dilley City Council, no one was at the meeting to see any visual aides.

Elsewhere in the meeting, the Notice of Intent to Issue Certificates of Obligation was tabled, as Councilwoman Esmeralda Cano specified that she would like to see project budgets first.