A city council vote on the Missouri City ordinance to levy an ad valorem tax rate increase for the fiscal year ending June 30th, 2014 was held Monday October 7th at the Missouri City Community Center. Over 125 people attended the meeting and several speakers underscored important truth in government & financial transparency concerns for consideration.
Wes Vela, Director of Finance, walked the meeting attendees through a presentation addressing residents questions and explaining the increased taxes would be spent on public safety, fire and police. Stay with me for a minute and you’ll realize why truth in government & transparency concerns were raised.
Recall on September 19th and 23rd, two public hearings were held in which Missouri City residents learned the new rate would be allocated to city employees through a pay adjustment and the salaries associated with hiring additional fire & police. Here is a copy of the handout distributed at the September 19th hearing.
Quite transparent so far, huh? New monies would be spent on fire and police, right?
However, according to the Council Agenda Item Cover Memo dated October 7th, 2013 the background states this rate would be allocated to Maintenance & Operations and to Interest & Sinking.
So which is it?
Would the money raised from the new rate be spent on pay adjustments for city employees and the additional hiring of fire & police as noted on the website & handouts or would the money be spent on Maintenance & Operations and Interest & Sinking as noted in the Council Agenda item Cover Memo?
Well, after much public comment from former Missouri City council members in favor of higher taxes (more on THAT in another post), a 5-2 vote resulted in Missouri City council adopting the higher tax rate.
The next day, on October 8th, THIS was posted on the city website:
Missouri City Tax Rate Increase Notice
The City of Missouri City adopted a tax rate that will raise more taxes for maintenance and operations than last year’s tax rate.
Do you now know why truth in government & transparency concerns were raised during the meeting?