Pampa City Commissioner further discusses tax rate

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The City of Pampa Commissioners met via Zoom on Monday afternoon. Commissioner Karen McLain was absent for this meeting.

The budget was the topic of discussion during the meeting, including the .765/$100 valuation.

City Manager Shane Stokes said in the presentation the City’s certified values on taxable property increased by roughly $18.78 million.

“If you recall, when your property values go up, your effective rate (now NNR rate) goes down,” Stokes said. “We project that when we get the final numbers from [the Tax Office] those numbers will change slightly.”

The estimated effective (NNR) rate, would provide for 22.66 percent to the fund balance for operating revenue. The proposed tax rate would allow for the City to operate with an additional $400,000 in revenue to put the operating revenue to 24.73 percent. 

“If we were to end this current year a couple of hundred thousand dollars short on revenue and maybe we come in a couple of hundred thousand dollars over in expenditures, we could eat up that 2.6 percent down below 20 percent which by policy kicks in some actions (layoffs, hiring/salary freeze, etc.) we don’t really want to try to take if we don’t have to,” Stokes said. 

“We’re still happy with the .765/$100 which puts $400,000 in reserves and gets us almost to the 25 percent (goal) at 24.73 percent.”

Stokes said they could work on the budget further for a lower rate, but it would result in less than the proposed $400,000 added to the fund balance. Currently, the City is at .73/$100 valuation. 

Mayor Brad Pingel said he would like to see what the current tax rate looks like with the final property values figured in.

“I would be certainly fine with the 23 percent (based on the 2019-20 budget) and keeping the tax rate at .73,” Pingel said.

Stokes added staying at the .73/$100 would result in $176,000 being added to the fund balance.

“It’s important to remember not to panic if the scale (metaphor for property values) goes down, we have a proposed budget that would get us 24 percent reserves at .765/$100,” Stokes said. “You could do the .73/$100, but have less in reserves ($400,000 to $176,000) or anywhere in-between. You could go down to NNR (.70/$100), too.)”

The next meeting will be on Aug. 10, which is when they could potentially have a tax rate discussion assuming property values are in. The proposed budget has to be filed on Aug. 14.

Pingel said while he sees the importance of keeping the reserves as close to 25 percent as possible, he feels like many people are struggling financially and doesn’t want to burden them with a tax increase. 

“We’ve got a lot of people who are hurting,” Pingel said. “If we’ve got an increase in tax rate, it just makes it all the more difficult.”

Commissioners Gary Winton and Jimmy Keough both agreed with Pingel.

The commissioners also approved the following items: 

• The minutes of the July 13, 2020 Regular Commission Meeting as presented.

• Excuse the absence of Commissioner Karen McLain from the July 13, 2020 Regular Commission Meeting.

• Adopting Resolution No. R20-018, a Resolution by the City Commission reappointing Mac Smith to the Canadian River Municipal Water Authority Board of Directors (CRMWA) for a two-year term beginning Aug. 1, 2020 and ending July 31, 2022.

• List of Disbursements dated June 2020.

The entire meeting can be viewed on YouTube at: https://bit.ly/2CXobMX. The budget discussion begins in the video at roughly 9:37.

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