Citizens Appeal to Wylie City Council For Lower Tax Rate

Houston, we've got a problem. No, actually Wylie, Texas does.

Wylie's taxes are astronomical and have increased every year for the last five. This is serious business and even Dave Lieber of the Dallas Morning News took note at the city council meeting held tonight.

Dozens of citizens took time out of their busy schedule to protest, and a dozen stood up one after another to express their concern over an oppressive tax rate, the highest in all of North Texas.

Taxpayers spoke out against the practice of tossing a cent or two reduction at the rate each year, and refusing to adopt the effective tax rate thereby increasing taxes year after year. Speakers during the public comment portion of the meeting provided very compelling witness before a weary council.

Mayor Pro Tem Keith Stephens stood in for Mayor Eric Hogue, who was at a meeting in Las Vegas. Stephens tried to placate protesters by saying he is in the same boat as them. Though that excuse has worked in the past when the Mayor used it, Wylie's taxpayers are on to this scheme.

It is sad that Stephens provided rote "clarification" during public comment which included canned statements which have been repeated ad nauseum by the Mayor through the years. He stated that Wylie has lowered taxes for four years, to which Councilwoman Diane Culver clarified was actually five years, and he said that they would look into cutting the tax rate as long as it does not affect city services. These are two very misleading statements.

Stephens indicated the tax rate has been cut over the past several years, but every year the council has increased taxes. According to the Texas Comptroller's Office in Austin, when a city does not adopt the effective tax rate to offset increased appraisal values, they are increasing taxes. The City of Wylie definition provided by Stephens and Mayor Hogue in the past is in direct conflict with the Comptroller's office.

Additionally, city services will not be in jeopardy by adopting the effective tax rate. What adoption means is that the city agrees to run under the same budget as the previous year.

Since growth pays for grow, each new home and business create a budget windfall as new home builds over the past couple of years have been valued at considerably higher than the break-even. Additionally, the city's sales tax revenue continues to increase quarter after quarter, adding to the revenue windfall.

Sources report that the city's break-even point on homes is $240K. That means that homes with appraisals more than that are paying more than the cost of services provided for that property. Thanks to steadily increasing property values over the past five years, the city is no longer in a situation where homes are costing the city in services. Stephens' excuse simply doesn't pass muster.

I heard from handfuls of citizens outside the chamber that they intend to continue showing up at future meetings and budget work sessions, and will push their neighbors to show up as well. They all agreed that if the city doesn't lower our taxes considerably this go around, they will begin stepping up to run against council members until each one is picked off, except for Dr. Wallis who is new to the council this year.

Make no mistake, taxpayers are organized and they are serious.