Mission to hold public workshop on budget next month

The city of Mission will hold a public hearing next month on its proposed budget, which could see a 4-cent tax hike, for the next fiscal year.

Mission residents will have the opportunity to ask questions and voice concerns during an Aug. 12 public hearing on the proposed budget.

During a budget workshop on July 15, the city council reviewed the proposed preliminary budget that would raise the city’s tax rate for the first time since at least 2011. At that time, the rate was at 0.5566 per $100 of property valuation, and has since steadily decreased to the current rate of 0.4862.

The preliminary budget proposes a 4-cent increase to 0.5262 — 3 cents lower than 2011’s rate.

That new rate is based on property valuations from the county but is still not final.

Mayor Armando O’Caña noted that the 0.5262 rate is one that the city has already experienced, crediting the need to return to that rate, at least partly, on the expansion of the city’s services.

O’Caña estimated that about 70% of the budget goes toward paying city staff of which there are over 700 individuals.

“So I only have 30% or less to work on operations,” he said, adding that some of the funds will go toward a new police substation and a new fire station.

The mayor also noted that Mission is the fourth largest city in the Rio Grande Valley and said they needed to provide the necessary funding for services that aligned with the growth of the city.

During a city council meeting Monday, City Manager Randy Perez presented the preliminary budget as discussed during the workshop.

The presentation reflected total appropriations of $45.8 million, special revenue funds at $10.2 million, enterprise funds at $35.8 million, debt service at $5.5 million, capital projects at $6.1 million and internal service fund at $5.6 million.

The preliminary total fund balance for all funds appropriated totaled $109,251,000.

For Councilman Ruben Plata, raising taxes seemed like the only solution to raise the city’s fund balance.

He pointed out that the new rate would only increase taxes by about $40 per year for a household valued at $100,000.

Plata said the necessity for the increase was due to the fact the city didn’t have enough in their unrestricted fund balance that the city uses for emergencies.

“It seems like we have money but some of those monies are allocated for other projects,” he said.

“The only thing that I would want is for us to make sure that we use that money wisely,” Plata said. “That we don’t just turn around and spend it because, if not, we’ll wind up in the same boat.”