CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — It was a contentious night at the Gregory City Council meeting. An unusually large crowd attended the meeting to voice their disagreement to raise property taxes.
The ordinance did pass raising property taxes from .74 cents to .80 cents, but not before a heated public hearing. City council and the CPA they go through tried to explain how it's beneficial to residents.
“While we have the tax rate going up, we’re getting rid of a fee, capital improvement fee," Ernest Garza said, CPA the city hired. That’s going to be a trade off for most of (you all).”
By removing the capital improvement fee, residents would save $180 dollars a year. In a breakdown given to attendees, a person who owns a $100,000 home would be paying $924 annually. With the changes, they would pay $801.
One of the main arguments from residents is Gregory has a high elderly population on a fixed income, thinking they can't afford tax changes.
“The poverty rate here in Gregory, do you know what it is? 31.9 percent. So, out of every 100 people you have 31, 32 people that are below poverty,” Dominic Hernandez said, a resident speaking to city council.
The residents didn’t appear to buy the explanation that they’d be saving money.
The conversation evolved into complaints from residents that the city has seen no growth. If property tax’s go up they want to see changes to the city.
City Administrator Tony Cano says projects are lined up. A resident questioned the changes because she hasn't seen or heard of start dates for public works and city infrastructure projects. Cano is adamant change is coming.
“We’re going to live and die and the streets are going to be the same. We need to do something," he said. "And it takes a while, it takes a while. You can’t come in and do this in three months.”
Another argument was, why can't the city supplement keeping taxes where they are and get more grants?
"Even though it's a grant, you still have to come up with some part to match," Norma Garcia said, city secretary.
When residents questioned why Gregory property tax is higher than Portland's property tax, Garcia explained that Portland gets much more from sales tax than Gregory does. Gregory is primarily a residential city.
City council also approved the budget for the next fiscal year.