The Denton City Council’s public hearings on Tuesday evening included one for the proposed 2022-23 budget, which will lower the property tax rate but increase the total tax bill for homeowners whose property valuations have risen, after the city finally received certified value totals from the Denton Central Appraisal District.
The revised proposed budget will raise 10.28% more in total property tax revenue, or $7,853,242, compared to the 2021-22 budget. Of that, about $3.24 million is tax revenue from new property added to the tax rolls this year.
Council member Chris Watts pointed out that the 10.28% increase comes from a rollover rate that the city hasn’t used in recent years.
The revised proposed budget also included a property tax rate of $0.56 per $100 valuation, a few cents’ decrease from the 2020 and 2021 rate of $.59 per $100 valuation. The tax bill for the average Denton home — valued at $307,283 — will be $1,723, up from $1,558 in 2021.
The City Council will reconvene Tuesday, Sept. 27, to vote on approving the budget.
Only two residents showed up for the council’s public hearing on the proposed budget.
“Just because you can raise it doesn’t mean you have to or doesn’t mean that you should,” one commenter said. “As a citizen in this town, rent went up because my landlord’s expenses went up and prices of groceries went up and gas went up. Everybody else’s expenses are coming onto me, and who do I give my expenses to? You’re going to sit here and say that you didn’t raise property taxes for two or three years and you’re going to raise it now on top of the other expenses. Where is that fair to citizens and residents of this city?”
Lowering taxes was on Mayor Gerard Hudspeth’s mind as early as January 2021, when he told the Denton Record-Chronicle that he wanted to change the property tax burden that a majority of property owners bear. He said then that the City Council wanted to reduce the tax rate again and lower service fees.
The city has been lowering the ad valorem tax rate for several years before and after the mayor took office in 2020, yet the average residential property owner has been paying an increase in taxes every year since 2017, when the tax bill was $1,349 for the average home valued at $197,379, according to Tuesday’s tax rate hearing presentation.
According to the presentation, residents’ water, wastewater, electric and solid rate will not change, for the second year in a row.
At Tuesday’s council meeting, the other public hearings tackled zoning changes for multiple projects, including a couple for the Rayzor Ranch area and an affordable apartment project, The Reserves at Magnolia. The Reserves at Magnolia calls for 60 units off Interstate 35E near Willowwood Street and Jacqueline Drive.
Watts did a good job delving into the particulars of the projects to help people understand, according to one resident.
Several council members and a resident commended the Magnolia developer for bringing it into the community.
“This is a model example of development,” one resident said.
Council members passed all zoning requests unanimously and an ordinance to amend the Denton Development Code related to two new uses — a modular data center and warehouse data center.
Council member Jesse Davis wasn’t in attendance Tuesday.
A few residents offered comments during the public hearings.
One resident claimed she had major concerns about frequent zoning changes and gave council members a warning about the planning and zoning commission. She questioned why people are receiving the notices about zoning changes via mail when it looks like junk mail, which many people throw away.
“I’m concerned about the mixed usage,” she said. “How many apartments do we need in this town? We got them looming over Hickory, over McKinney and a whole slew over them by the animal shelter. I don’t trust Planning and Zoning to have the best interest of the people in Denton.”
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CHRISTIAN McPHATE can be reached at 940-220-4299 and via Twitter at @writerontheedge.