The Rockport City Council, at its regular meeting Tuesday, Aug. 24, held a public hearing for the 2021 property tax rate, and “passed” the public hearing regarding the 2021-22 budget, as well as any deliberation about the budget. The public hearing for the budget will now be held at 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 7.

After the hearing, council, with a 3-2 vote, approved on first reading an ordinance approving the assessment and renditions for the 2021 taxable property as submitted by the Aransas County Appraisal District, and levying a tax rate of $0.392720.

The tax rate includes $.208434 for maintenance and operations (M&O), and $.184286 for debt service (I&S).

Mayor Pat Rios and Mayor Pro-tem J.D. Villa voted against the proposed tax rate. Recently elected council members Katy Jackson (2021), Brad Brundrett (2021), and Andrea Hattman (2020) supported the No New Revenue Rate.

Tax rate background

At its Aug. 10 meeting the council approved City Manager Kevin Carruth’s “presentation” of the proposed 2021-22 budget using the Voter Approval Rate (VAR) of $.418347, but asked City staff to rework it using the No New Revenue Rate (NNRR) of $.392720.

At a special budget workshop Aug. 16, the council discussed the affect of its decision to propose the NNRR.

City staff was asked to come back with another rate, between the NNRR and VAR.

At a special meeting Aug. 19, Finance Director Katie Griffin presented a new proposed tax rate (between the NNRR and the VAR) of $.410432.

Villa made the motion to approve the proposed tax rate ($.410432) and set the hearing date. Mayor Pat Rios seconded it. Villa and Rios voted in favor of the proposed tax rate and new hearing date. Jackson, Brundrett, and Hattman opposed the action.

Public hearing

Nancy Bolting, Kristie Rutledge, and Jeff Hutt spoke at Tuesday’s (Aug. 24) public hearing regarding the proposed NNRR.

Bolting, showing support for the average City employee, outlined their salaries and noted their net pay is between $15 and $16 per hour.

“This (budget and tax rate as originally proposed by City staff) is not about fluff as pointed out by a small minority (of vocal residents),” she said.

Rutledge chastised City staff and council members who opposed the NNRR - which was originally approved at the Aug. 10 meeting - for dragging everyone through two additional meetings (Aug. 16 and Aug. 19).

“I have faith in you (Jackson, Brundrett, and Hattman) and proud of your sticking to the NNRR,” she said.

Hutt said, “It is my understanding we can only lower the tax rate tonight,” and then started asking questions about the City’s natural gas operations.

He was cut off my Mayor Rios, saying this was a hearing about the tax rate, not the budget.

Later in the agenda, after the public hearing, the council approved the NNRR with the aforementioned 3-2 vote.

The second reading of the tax rate ordinance is set for Tuesday, Sept. 7.

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