LA MARQUE — Although city leaders are proposing to keep the same tax rate the city has had for the last eight years, La Marque residents may have the ability to lower their taxes slightly.
The county’s tax assessor’s office informed city leaders that the proposed tax rate of 51.436 cents per $100 of taxable value is higher than the rollback rate of 49.0764 cents per $100 of taxable value.
That means if enough registered voters in La Marque were to sign onto a rollback petition the decision of whether to adopt the lower tax rate could go before voters. If a majority of voters pick to rollback the tax rate then the lower rate will become the city’s tax rate.
The average homeowner in La Marque could see a savings of about $20 if the city were to go with the rollback rate.
It would take about 988 signatures, 10 percent of registered voters in La Marque, to call for the rollback election, according to the county’s tax assessor’s office.
The city’s proposed tax rate of 51.436 cents per $100 of taxable value is higher than the effective tax rate, the rate needed to raise the same amount of revenue with the new appraisal values. However, some cities, including La Marque, have approved a sales tax offset of property taxes, which means the rollback rate can actually be lower than the effective rate.
Galveston County Tax Assessor Cheryl Johnson said La Marque had a “big bump” in sales tax driving the rollback rate lower.
According to the city’s proposed budget the city is estimating to raise $3.163 million in sales tax general fund revenue in 2014. That’s up from $2.842 million in sales tax revenue in 2013.
Meanwhile, La Marque’s tax rate has remained the same since 2006. But this year thanks to increasing property values, the city would make more revenue, and individual property owners would pay more in taxes, if the rate remained at 51.436 cents per $100 of taxable value.
The average taxable value of a resident’s homestead in La Marque in 2014 was $87,108, up nearly $3,000 from 2013, according to the Galveston County Tax Office.
The average taxpayer will pay about $448 in municipal property taxes if the city were to adopt the proposed tax rate. If the city were to adopt the rollback rate the amount the average homeowner in La Marque would pay would be about $427.
The estimated taxable property value in the city is about $577.625 million, according to the tax assessor’s office. By adopting the rollback rate rather than the proposed rate the city would raise about $136,000 less in property tax revenue, according to the tax assessor’s office.
Meanwhile Johnson said that if the decision went before voters and they chose the rollback rate the city would need to pay the cost of resending tax statements and to issue refunds.
That could cost about $13,000, she said
La Marque Mayor Bobby Hocking said the county tax office informed city officials that the proposed rate was more than the rollback rate, just as the City Council was to begin the second day of budget workshops.
“We began our budget meeting by making council and citizens in attendance, as well as viewing (on the municipal access channel), aware of the situation,” Hocking said.
Hocking indicated the city was waiting on more information from the county’s central appraisal district as well as on a pair of public meetings before any action would be taken.
The council will hold hearings on Aug. 11 and 25 before setting the rate in September, he said.
“Council will hear from the citizens and act in their best interests,” Hocking said.“I have complete faith that the people in our city can understand the issue at hand and help us do what’s best for the city of La Marque.”
Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or firstname.lastname@example.org.