By DAVID LOPEZ
On Tuesday morning, the Cameron County Commissioner’s Court approved a $0.02 property tax increase per $100 valuation for the 2019-2020 year.
Motioned by Pct. 2 Commissioner Joey Lopez, commissioners were quick to approve the motion, citing the need for the hike for addressing county employee wages, law enforcement, and infrastructure.
The increase will raise county tax revenue by 4.8 percent, an increase in revenue that supporters of the hike say is necessary to maintain the county’s growth.
“We’re hoping and planning on [Cameron County’s growth] so we can continue to maintain one of, if not the lowest, tax rate among the large entities throughout the Valley and south Texas,” said County Judge Eddie Treviño, Jr. “We hope that the citizens understand the issues that we’re dealing with, the growth that we need to address and continue to provide the services that our county and our citizens demand and expect.”
Commissioner Pct. 3 David A. Garza commented that he supported a one-cent increase after voting nay, along with Pct. 1 Commissioner Sofia Benavides, on the two-cent hike.
According to Garza, the average property homeowner across Cameron County has experienced an appraised property value increase of 6.5 percent every year; he wished not to supplement that burden with a $0.02 increase.
Pct. 4 Commissioner Gus Ruiz, however, supported the increase in order to provide county residents with better service.
“Since 2002 up until now the tax rate has increased probably about seven cents in 17 years. Now, is that tax increase congruent with the demand and need for services? I don’t think it is. In my precinct, we’ve gotten hit two years in a row (with flooding). We’ve got some major drainage problems,” Ruiz said.
This past summer, cities in Cameron County experienced widespread damage due to flooding in the areas of Harligen, La Feria, Combes, and Primera, resulting in calls from citizens for further city and county government intervention in prevention and assistance for flood damage.
Editor’s note: This article has been edited for length. To read the full story, click here or make sure to grab a copy at one of our various newspaper racks.