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The City of El Campo tax rate is going down, but whether it will mean a savings depends on how much an individual homeowner’s property value rose.

The 2019-2020 budget is being shaped around a 56.887 cents per $100 in taxable property rate, down a bit more than six cents from the current levy if ultimately approved.

“The citizens will be thrilled with that. The CAD (Wharton County Central Appraisal District) is out of control. Taxes are too high,” City Councilman David Hodges said. “At least we can say the City of El Campo is trying.”

Added to the lower proposed tax rate, however, will be the Transportation User Fee, a surcharge dedicated to street work. That levy will likely rise from 43 cents per month for city residents to $1.87 per month. Commercial customers will likely see a rise from $1 to $6.

Minimum utility bills are proposed to rise 60 cents per month as well.

The city’s effective rate dropped from 63.218 cents per $100 to 57.287 cents per $100 this year.

“Our goal is to go a half penny below the effective rate,” Interim City Finance Director Brittni Nanson told council Monday.

It’s very possible to get there, City Manager Courtney Sladek said, adding, “It’s mainly attributable to the sales tax increase.”

The proposed city budget calls for a 5 percent gain in sales tax next year providing funding.

That’s conservative, Sladek said. “It’s actually been 8 percent for the last two years and 11 percent the year before that.”

Actual tax savings to the public will depend on the value of individual pieces of property. If a home is valued at $100,000 this year, the bill is 632.18. If that same piece of property is still valued at $100,000, the bill will drop $63.31 if the proposed levy is ultimately approved. If that home is now valued at $130,000, however, the bill would be $739.53 with the proposed lower rate. If the home is now valued at $110,000 the bill would be $625.75, a $6.42 savings.

Council approved setting the 57.287-cent effective rate as the tax ceiling for budget talks during Monday’s session.

The rate can drop from there, but go no higher.

Budget scenarios are still in the works and, aside from the tax ceiling, nothing has been finalized.

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