Staff proposed raising the tax rate from last year’s rate of 55.06 cents per $100 valuation to 60.06 cents per $100 valuation for fiscal 2015. The effective tax rate would be 55.06 cents per $100 valuation.
The tax increase would generate approximately $422,544 in additional tax revenue. Funds would be used to support initiatives within the 2015 budget. The proposed budget includes initiatives to hire five new city employees — including three firefighters, one information technology technician, and one police dispatcher — and the purchase of several maintenance equipment items and vehicles.
The Council will need to host two public hearings before adopting the new tax rate. Those meetings will be held Aug. 14 and Aug. 19.
Mayor David Krebs implored residents to analyze the proposed budget, which can be downloaded from the city’s website.
“If you come to one of these hearings, please go to the website and look at the budget,” Krebs said. “This budget is safety and infrastructure work. That’s basically what it is.”
In other business, the Council approved the consignment of $10,000 in hot funds to the Portland Chamber of Commerce for the promotion of tourism and the hotel industry. The Texas tax code permits cities to delegate these services and provide hot funds to private organizations to carry out certain functions.
“The Chamber requested $10,000 to carry out that function,” City Manager Randy Wright said. “They are a nonprofit organization, and uniquely positioned to do that kind of work.”
The city will continue to use hot funds to maintain existing billboards and other advertising functions that promote Portland.
Wright said the Chamber’s expenditures will be reported to city staff on a quarterly basis.
“The Chamber really promotes the city, and I know these funds will promote it a lot more,” Krebs said. “I know our staff doesn’t have the time to promote the city, but they will be able to do that.”
Chamber Director Colette Walls said some uses for the funding will include extra staffing when the Chamber sponsors the annual Windfest festival, and a new program that will teach youngsters how to be entrepreneurs.