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Proposed Abilene city budget calls for tax, fee increases

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ABILENE, Texas - If the Abilene City Council approves the new proposed budget, city workers won't be getting a raise next year, but voters will still pay more in taxes and fees. Specifically, there would be an increase in the property tax rates and an increase in fees on water bills. The proposed budget for the 2017 fiscal year calls for a 3.25 cent property tax increase per $100 valuation.

That tax increase breaks down to a little more than an additional $30 a year for the owner of a $100,000 house.

Abilene City Manager Robert Hanna said that would pay for $28.1 million in bond debt that voters approved in a bond election in 2015.

"I'm bringing council a budget that lives within our means just like everybody else does in the city of Abilene," Hanna said. "They can't raise their paycheck whenever they want to, and we're not doing that here this year with our budget. We're being very conservative and very careful with the public's money."

The proposed budget also calls for a 16.5-percent increase in water and sewer fees for residential customers to maintain the system.

Hanna said for an average home that uses 6,000 gallons of water a month, it would mean a $2.94 monthly bill increase.

Hanna said it's a tight budget partly because sales tax revenue is predicted to be down about five percent through the end of this fiscal year. Hanna said if it doesn't go up during the next fiscal year, more serious cutbacks could be on the way. "I'm not talking about parks and recreation, I'm talking about police and fire," Hanna said. "We'll probably be looking at furloughs, probably looking at tax increases just to maintain city operations if it continues to decline." The first reading for the proposed budget will be July 28, then there will be a public hearing on Aug. 11.

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