BROWNSVILLE, Texas – Brownsville’s chief financial officer says a reduction in the tax rate is a game changer for the city.
The new fiscal year budget offers a substantial decrease of the property tax rate for taxpayers, from .691919 in 2023 to .607987 in 2024.
This is an eight percent reduction per $100 valuation. It is the fourth consecutive reduction in the City’s tax rate and the largest in recent history.
Michael Delmore, Brownsville’s CFO, said: “The tax rate move is a game changer. It allows for the City to become more competitive in attracting new businesses, is beneficial for existing residents, as well as families desiring to relocate to Brownsville.”
Delmore said Brownsville’s economic growth remains robust, with sales tax surging 112.5 percent over the past eight years, translating to a yearly growth rate of 14.1 percent.
He said surplus sales tax revenue in Fiscal Year 2024 will be considered towards one-time projects and reinvestment in beautification, trails, parks and recreation, infrastructure, technology, and matching grant funds.
In an interview with the Rio Grande Guardian International News Service, Helen Ramirez, Brownsville’s city manager, said the tax rate reduction is one of three key points worth highlighting in the new budget. She said City of Brownsville employees will get 3.5 percent increase this year while taxpayers will receive a substantial tax rate reduction.
“The new budget is very employee focused. Our employees hadn’t received a cost of living adjustment since 2014. So for me to give them a three and a half percent raise in addition to a stipend before the end of the fiscal year, and also additional flex programs that we’re doing for work life balance is very important,” Ramirez said.
“Also, we’ve lowered our property tax rate. This is the fourth consecutive year in a row. It is a reduction of eight cents so it’s very substantial.”
The third key point, Ramirez said, concerned infrastructure.
“We issued certificates of obligation in the amount of almost $30 million, and that really is to accelerate a lot of our important road projects, and complete some of our street projects. So it’s roads, it’s sidewalks, it’s beautification of the city,” Ramirez said.
“This is great for our community, and it’s great for economic development.”
The City of Brownsville Commission ratified the City’s Fiscal Year 2024 General Fund Budget, set at $121 million, at its Aug. 15 meeting, It also confirmed Certificates of Obligation bonds valued at $29.6 million.
Full-time city employees will see a 3.5 percent Cost of Living Adjustment (COLA) increase and a one-time $1,315 stipend. Part-time employees will receive a $658 stipend. In addition, the rollout includes a new 9/80 flex work schedule.
Of the $29.6 million bond issue, roughly $12.5 million will go towards completing street and drainage improvements and repairs. City leaders say Old Highway 77 will notably benefit from this investment, with $4.5 million earmarked for the $8 million reconstruction project. Identified street projects will encompass comprehensive design, rebuild, and repair endeavors.
The list of improved streets includes, but is not limited to:
• Old Highway 77
• Stagecoach Road
• Wild Rose Lane
• East 14th Street
• Coffee Road and Coffee Port Road
• Old Alice Road
In a press release, Ramirez said: “Our budget exemplifies an Employee First Focus that rewards our dedicated employees with a 3.5 percent COLA they have not received since 2014, while lowering the tax rate for our residents. This demonstrates our ONE CITY approach, where internally and collectively, with external community partners, we provide citizens with improved service levels while accelerating our strong economy.”
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