El Paso city officials have bragged that they plan to significantly reduce the city’s property tax rate from last year.

“City of El Paso approves largest tax rate reduction in over 35 years,” headlined a recent press release from City Hall.

In a recent column from the El Paso Timescity ​​representatives Cassandra Hernandez, Isabel Salcido and Claudia Rodriguez said the city is planning “a significant reduction in the property tax rate” this year.

But city officials are actually proposing a substantial tax increase, according to a notice the city is required to issue under Texas’ Tax Truth Act.

The “tax rate proposed by the city is higher than the tax rate without new income. This means the City of El Paso is proposing to raise property taxes for the 2022 tax year,” the notice published in Friday’s El Paso Times reads.

Homes in El Paso would see an average 6.1% increase in municipal taxes, the notice said.

The El Paso City Council has approved a proposal to set the property tax rate at 86.2 cents per $100 of property assessment.

City taxes on an El Paso home averaging $166,823 — including a homestead exemption, which reduces assessed value — would be $1,439 under the city’s proposed tax rate . That’s $83 more than the current annual tax bill, an increase of 6.1%, according to the city’s notice.

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City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed tax rate at Downtown City Hall at 9 a.m. on August 23. A vote on final approval of that rate is scheduled to be voted on the same day, according to a city press release.

The proposed rate is lower than the current tax rate of 90.7 cents per $100 of assessment, and that’s what city officials have been touting.

The city's chief financial officer, Robert Cortinas, at a city council meeting in November 2019.

However, Robert Cortinas, the city’s chief financial officer, said in a statement that city officials aren’t misleading residents when they tout the 4.49-cent rate cut because it’s about the largest reduction in the tax rate since 1986.

But because El Paso property values ​​have increased significantly this yearthe city could collect the same amount as last year with a much lower tax rate.

That rate, called the “no-new-income tax rate,” is 82.3 cents, nearly 4 cents lower than the city’s proposed new rate.

This is the tax rate the city should adopt to have no tax increase.

“The ‘tax rate without new income’ would have required further budget cuts of nearly $17 million, at a time when the City faces increases due to inflation, contractual obligations and the need to be aggressive with wage increases for (its) workforce “said Cortinas.

The Clardy Fox neighborhood in south-central El Paso, shown here in August 2021, is among the neighborhoods in El Paso that have seen property tax assessments rise significantly.

Had the city proposed a tax rate just a penny higher than its proposed rate of 86.2 cents, it would have required the approval of that rate by city voters — something government officials typically try to avoid. . The voter approval tax rate is 87.2 cents per $100 of assessment.

“The proposed rate of 86.2 cents was recommended to reduce the tax rate as much as possible, without negatively impacting public safety, the street, health or any other service provided to our community,” said said Cortinas.

Vic Kolenc can be reached at 546-6421; [email protected]; @vickolenc on Twitter.

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