The Dublin City Council stands divided on whether to increase the proposed tax rate to the minimum or maximum allowable by law after a tie vote on the issue Monday.
Now, public hearings and budget work sessions are being pushed back at least a week since the council did not reach a consensus Monday with two members absent.
The proposed tax rate is the figure used while drafting a budget before adopting a final tax rate along with the final budget by Sept. 30.
Councilmen Jimmy Leatherwood, Kenneth Lunsford and Gaylon Craddock supported keeping the tax rate at $1.0883 for the 2012-13 budget, while Mayor Pro Tem Tommy Sperry, who presided over the meeting, Bobby Mendez and Darrell Curry supported raising the city's property tax to $1.1384.
Balancing the city's annual budget, filled with needs from sewer repairs to debt payments, is a tricky task. Some believe raising the tax rate is the only way to pay back debt, while others believe City Hall should tighten its grip on spending in all departments.
"Sooner or later (the tax rate) has to go up," Sperry said. "If we leave it the way it is, we will have to pull from reserves in order to pay back debt service. We have tried pulling it down, but that doesn't work."
Leatherwood, however, didn't agree.
"It's not how much tax you levy, it's how much you spend," Leatherwood said. "No one ever thinks about quitting spending. It's true in every form of government."
Others feared that raising the tax rate for the second consecutive year will not provide long-term solutions to financial troubles and continue repelling residents from Dublin.
"Last year we set the rate as high as we could and it was a railroad job through the end of budget season," Lunsford said. "I don't agree with setting it at the max. We did that last year, tried to pull it down from there and it never happened."
Dublin has the highest tax rate and lowest collection rate of all Erath County taxing jurisdictions.
Mayor Becky Norris planned to be at the meeting, but left City Hall to attend an urgent family matter. Mike Hicks and Amy James were also absent.
A public hearing set for 6 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 23, will likely be rescheduled until after the council meets to again discuss the tax rate. The council will host a budget workshop at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 20, at City Hall.