City Council approved new lower, but more costly, tax rate unanimously Monday night.

The 56.888 cents per $100 in property value tax levy this year falls to 56.338 cents per $100, the no new revenue rate, according to the Wharton County Tax Assessor-Collector’s office.

With most homeowners seeing an increase in their property value, however, the average bill will be bigger – about $33 on average. The typical El Campo house rose from $145,540 to $152,650 in value over the last year, according to computations made by the Wharton County Central Appraisal District.

El Campo residents should see a bigger utility bill too, although that rate isn’t going up either.

Instead, the minimum use base rate is falling from 3,000 gallons to 2,500 gallons next year.

Sales tax collections, the city’s other major revenue stream, are projected to remain steady at last year’s level of $4.5 million in response to the uncertain climate caused by COVID-19.

The city’s 2020-2021 budget is actually about $116,000 less than the current year’s. The plan was approved unanimously in a roll call vote of the full council.

“It’s very tight, very frugal,” City Manager Courtney Sladek said.

A full-time emergency management coordinator, a $60,000 to $72,000 post, is the only new post in next fiscal year’s plan. Currently, $14,000 in paid stipends is divided among two people who work the job part time. The city hopes grants will cover the cost of the as-of-yet unfilled position.

Capital items in the budget proposal are limited street and utility line maintenance, two replacement police cruisers and a replacement mower for the public works.

The $21.3 million budget goes into effect Oct. 1.

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