Council approves tax increase

5.3 percent rate boost helps fund $23.3 million budget


After months of crunching numbers and weeks of debate, Kilgore City Council members signed off on the Fiscal Year 2017-2018 budget and tax rate Tuesday night.

The five elected officials on the dais unanimously approved Kilgore City Manager Josh Selleck’s proposed budget for FY2018. They split 4-1 on the tax rate, with Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon voting against the 5.3 percent increase.

The budget includes $17.3 million in General Fund expenses and $5.9 million for the Utility Fund.

Adding about 3.3 cents, the vote brings the total tax rate to 53.9 cents per $100 valuation – about $43.38 more per year on a $100,000 home – including $0.513114 for operations and maintenance plus $0.025886 for debt service.

As for the budget, “We’ve talked about it for weeks,” McClendon said, signing off on the financial plan though he doesn’t agree with how it’s being funded, particularly the tax increase.

Prior to the vote, Selleck offered a brief overview of the budget and the rate increase. No members of the public spoke during the final hearings on either issue.

“We start with the same base service levels as last year,” Selleck noted. “We’re very mildly building some of the service cuts that we’ve had to make in prior years, and we’ve got a couple of small enhancements,” including a brush truck and hiring a new employee for a Main Street / Events Coordinator.

Notably, “This year for the first time in three years we’re going to take a serious look at employee compensation. The large focus of that is on our public safety employees.”

The tax increase is necessary to offset the year’s decline in assessed values on the city’s tax rolls, Selleck added.