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Orange council holds public hearing on proposed tax ‘increase’

By Dawn Burleigh

Orange Director of Finance Cheryl Zeto took a moment to explain the increase in revenue anticipated to generate under the new tax rate despite the tax rate being lower for the 2020/2021 fiscal budget.

“The Appraisal District decided the values on property and for many it went up,” Zeto said at the Tuesday morning city council meeting.

She explained there are many things which can affect the value such as market value, improvement with drainage, lower crime rate, and economic development coming into the city.

“The city is one small part of the tax rate,” Zeto said. “The tax rate decreased and the first year in five or six years with a decrease. If the value of your property went up, you may still see higher taxes. This is what the county gives us and we work with it. With a decrease, we are moving in the right direction.”

The budget will raise more revenue from property taxes the last year’s budget by an amount of $88,118, which is 1.14% increase from last year’s budget. The property tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year is $34,682.

The ad valorem tax rate is .80590 which is a decrease of .00124% from the current year of .80690.

A public hearing was also held regarding a potential CDBG-MIT application through the Texas General Office for three proposed projects:

  • Jackson Street Waste Water Treatment Plant Improvements ($7.2 million)
  • Public Works Service Center ($5.3 million)
  • Elevated and Ground Water Utilities Storage Tank ($7.9 million)

City Manager Mike Kunst reminded everyone to remember COVID protocols and thanked the linemen and other volunteers who came into the area to help after Hurricane Laura.

“All power has been restored,” Kunst said. “There are one or two with other damages and are working towards restoring them as well. Thanks to all who made this happen.”

Kunst added evacuees were returning Tuesday afternoon.

“It takes a village to raise a village,” Council member Mary McKenna said. “Laura showed us this and council members were all out there helping. I am proud to live in Orange.”

Council members also offered condolences to Mayor Larry Spears Jr whose mother passed away.