170816-donna_city_council_2 170816-donna_city_council

DONNA, RGV – At a city council meeting on Tuesday evening, Donna council members voted to cut property taxes for the fourth year in a row.

The new rate will be 0.79 cents per $100 of property valuation, a drop of nine cents.

“We are very happy to be taking this decision. Our citizens deserve this,” said Donna Mayor Irene Muñoz. “For a long time, we were the highest tax-paying people in the Valley so bringing it down to a level comparable to other cities in the Valley is great, great, news.”

Asked if dropping the tax rate by nine cents would reduce city council income and thus impact services, Muñoz said no. “It is a significant drop. We have been bringing more businesses in, and getting more traffic at the bridge. That lowers our debt service. For the last three years we have been able to bring it down, about ten cents per year.”

Ernesto Silva, Donna’s interim city manager, explained that increased revenues from truck traffic at the bridge, along with new businesses locating in the city, has brought in additional sales tax revenues. This, he said, has allowed the council to reduce its debt service tax rate.

“For the first time in many, many, years we will have a tax rate under 80 cents, which is a great accomplishment, considering that three years ago you were at almost $1.26,” Silva told council members.

City council members also took the first steps in a plan to lower water rates, a bone of contention for some residents. “We are also happy about cutting our water rates by five percent. It is a double blessing,” said Mayor Muñoz.

Mayor Pro Tem Sonia Gallegos agreed that the residents of Donna deserved a property tax cut and a reduction in their water rates.

“This has been our plan for a number of years. It goes hand in hand with bringing in more economic development, taking care of our infrastructure, lowering our water rates, working on projects to improve the quality of life of our citizens,” Gallegos said.

“The plan has always been to lower our taxes. We hope next year we can lower taxes again. This is the fourth year in a row we have been able to lower our tax rate. For the city of Donna, it is great news.”

Gallegos said property taxes have not been below 80 cents for six or seven years.

“Of course, initially that debt with the bridge is what got us to the high taxes. Now the bridge is self-sustaining, in operation costs, we are able to lower our taxes. Plus, we are getting a lot more revenue for our sales taxes. We continue to tell our citizens that you continue to Shop Donna.”

Gallegos said another ordinance related to lowering water rates would be considered in two weeks times.

“I know this is something our citizens have been really concerned about. In comparison to other cities we are not the highest. But, still, it is a commodity that is very expensive. It is expensive to process. But I think our citizens are starting to understand that the process is the reason for the high cost, plus we are paying for a lot of infrastructure. Hopefully, we pass another ordinance in two weeks. We plan to continue lowering the water rates over the next couple of years.”

Gallegos added: “These are very exciting times for the city of Donna. We are progressing, moving forward. We just want to continue working hard.”