By Chris Edwards
IVANHOE – Mayor Cathy Bennett presented the Tyler County Appraisal Board’s estimate of taxable values for the City of Ivanhoe at last Thursday’s city council meeting.
The certified estimate of property values in the city went up from $61 million in 2018 to $68. “This is an estimate, this is not the final,” Bennett said. “This will change before we do our final budget, but right now those are the figures that came out.”
Bennett said that based on the estimate, the effective tax rate for Ivanhoe property owners will decrease to $0.68 per $100 of taxable value, which would be a decrease of $0.07 from the previous tax rate.
During Bennett’s report, she gave an update on Senate Bill 2, and its ramifications for cities. The bill, which was recently signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott, is designed to limit property tax growth, by limiting the ability of municipalities to make increases in property taxes.
The bill was controversial with many officials, because of the possible limitations it would place upon city budgets.
“Thank heavens,” Bennett said, as the bill will only affect cities with populations of more than 30,000.
Another bill from this year’s legislative session, SB 29, was defeated, Bennett reported. That bill would have forbidden cities from using the Texas Municipal League as a lobby.
Three city council members, Tommy Morris, Rowland Priddy and Chuck Vonderlin attended a TML debriefing in Austin of new bills passed into law. Each of them reported on a variety of new laws and how they will possibly affect Ivanhoe.
Morris spoke about SB 2 and said that the new law would require the city to hold an election if it wished to raise property taxes above the current 8% rate.
The councilmembers also shared information about a variety of laws, ranging from legislation concerning the open meetings act to the regulation of off-road vehicles within city limits.
Update on dog situation given
Municipal Judge Judith Haney gave an update on a situation involving several dangerous dogs. In May, an Ivanhoe resident, Michael Gray, approached Bennett, and demanded the city intervene and get rid of the dogs, which numbered around 50.
A court order was issued for the removal or disposal of the dogs. City ordinance limits the number of dogs a resident can house to five.
Haney said the city has “always had stray dog issues,” but many of these dogs were having multiple litters of puppies on Gray’s property. Twenty-three of the dogs were euthanized, 15 of them saved and 13 puppies were saved. Many of the dogs who were captured and evaluated were deemed un-adoptable, and five of them were returned to Gray after being tended to.
“The court is watching to make sure this does not happen again,” Haney said.
Bennett added that she is “very proud of the city and all of the volunteers who worked on this.”
Councilmembers approved two resolutions pertaining to November elections. One of them was an election order for the Nov. 5 election for three council positions which are up for re-election.
The other resolution was for a special election order for the city’s general sales and use tax. City secretary C.D. Woodrome said that new legislation has made it possible for all sales tax generated by a taxing entity to go into a general fund. Currently 1.25% of the city’s sales tax revenue is designated for roads. The special election would decide whether or not that percentage will increase to 1.5%. Woodrome wanted to clarify that this would not be an additional tax, it would just raise the allocation of sales tax gathered for roads.