The new fiscal year is right around the corner, bringing with it a slew of important projects that will help our community thrive.
On Aug. 1, I presented the City’s proposed budget to our City Council. The budget is available for viewing at www.victoriatx.gov/budget, along with a copy of my presentation and a flyer highlighting some of the initiatives that residents can look forward to.
One project that you may have heard us talk about is the new public safety headquarters, which will house the Victoria Police Department, the Victoria Fire Department administration and the Municipal Court. All of these services have outgrown their current facilities, so we’re looking forward to equipping them with adequate space and modern amenities that will help them to provide excellent service to the public even as the departments grow over the next 25 years.
We’re making use of a variety of different funding sources to ensure that this important project does not put a strain on our budget. We’ve also been paying off our debts early in recent years (think of it like paying off a mortgage early) so that we can issue certificates of obligation for this project even as we decrease our debt tax rate.
We are once again increasing funding for streets next year, aiming to repair 20 miles of troubled streets as part of our overall goal of repairing 112 miles between FY 2022-2026. Most of that is going toward our neighborhoods, with projects planned in Bon Aire, College Park and Tanglewood, to name a few. We also have planned to address key thoroughfares, such as Vine Street, which serves as an entryway to our beautiful Riverside Park.
Also, we are continuing to commit resources to next year’s bicentennial celebration. The De Leon Plaza expansion that began this year will be followed by many more milestone projects and events as we celebrate Victoria’s past, present and future. These plans include the unveiling of statues of our founders, Martin de León and Patricia de la Garza.
Other projects in the new budget include Phase III of our LED lighting project, vehicles for first responders, a master plan for the Victoria Community Center and drainage/utility improvements.
We are also planning to reduce the property tax rate by 13% compared to last year, which will mark the fourth year in a row that we’ve either decreased the tax rate or kept it the same. For context, the tax rate in fiscal year 2019 was $0.6224 per $100 of valuation; we are proposing a rate of $0.4898, which is a 21% decrease since 2019.
There is a direct relationship between property valuations and tax rates. Assessed property values have been on an upward trend in recent years, which allows us to lower the tax rate without compromising our services. It is impossible to ascertain the impact a lower tax rate will have on every property owner. However, we are seeing a shift in where we are seeing the increases in valuations. Commercial valuations are growing at a higher rate than residential, which means that the impact on residential is minimized, if there is one.
This year, the value of commercial properties increased at a greater rate compared to residential properties. In addition, about 15% of the property tax revenue increase this year is coming from new developments rather than existing properties.
We’ve also seen an increase in our projected sales tax revenue, which indicates that more people are shopping locally. By encouraging development and expanding our community’s restaurant and retail options, we’ve been able to increase our sales tax base, which helps us to not rely solely on property tax revenue to continue offering great services.
We hope residents will take time to look over the informative resources at www.victoriatx.gov/budget and mark their calendars for the start of the new fiscal year on Oct. 1. Here’s to another year of enhancing livability in Victoria!
Jesús A. Garza is the city manager for the City of Victoria.