City holding meeting again on tax increase

The Odessa City Council is holding a special meeting Friday afternoon to once again vote on an increase in property taxes.

According to materials provided to the city council, an error was made in creating the public notice about the tax increase and the 3 p.m. Friday meeting is being held to correct the error.

Public notices must be published on the homepage of the City of Odessa’s website and in the Odessa American.

The city is attributing the error to the Ector County Appraisal District.

Last week, the council was asked to ratify a tax rate of $0.483791 per $100 valuation and did so. While the rate is the same as last year, it is considered a tax increase on Odessans as it brings in more money than last year. A majority of that money will come from new property added to the tax roll but some will also come from properties that appraise higher than they did last year. The council could have voted to lower the rate and bring in the same amount of property tax revenue as last year.

This week, the city is again opening a public hearing on the tax increase and a summary of the agenda item expressly states the new rate “means the City of Odessa is proposing to increase property taxes for the 2023 tax year.” No such language was included in last week’s materials.

The summary also includes rules about public hearing requirements, public notices and when the council is allowed to vote on proposed tax rates. Again, none of that language was included the first time around.

Ross Leake, the committee clerk for the Texas Senate’s tax policy committee, commented on the incorrect posting of the tax rate on X, formerly known as Twitter.

He said the city’s notice contained “glaring miscalculations/errors,” was likely out of compliance with the notice provisions of the tax code and could “subject the adoption of their tax rate to litigation.”

Interim Director of Finance Seth Boles has said the increase will bring in roughly $2.5 million or 5% more than last year and of that amount $1.9 million will come from new property added to the tax roll this year.

After holding the public hearing, the city council is scheduled to ratify the increase again and discuss levying the tax for the 2023 tax year and FY23-24.

Although the final vote on the proposed tax rate was originally set for Sept. 26, it will now occur on Sept. 28.

The council is also scheduled to discuss removing Boles as an authorized signer on city funds and adding new City Manager John Beckmeyer and Budget Manager Monica Munoz.

In addition to seeing a tax increase, Odessans can also expect a 6% increase in both the water and sewer rates and a 3.5% increase in solid waste rates. The council voted to increase those last week as well.