Kilgore City Council at its meeting on Tuesday approved the city’s budget for the coming year, as well as a six cents increase in the city’s tax rate.
The increase was approved to help the city offset lost revenue amid the effects of the 2020 COVID-19 pandemic. Much of these losses were caused by the closure and relocation of the Kilgore operations of the Halliburton oilfield services company last year. To balance the budget for the coming year, the city cut 16 jobs, ongoing maintenance expenses and city funding for some city events.
In recent public meetings on the budget and tax rate, some Kilgore citizens urged the council to make additional cuts or find some other way to balance the budget without resorting to a tax increase. At a recent budget workshop, councilors expressed a desire to avoid cuts that would remove or decrease the quality of life in the city, including the services provided by the Kilgore Public Library, Kilgore City Pool and others.
“We cut everything we can without eliminating something we loved in Kilgore,” said City Manager Josh Selleck. “Even for the last week we have had conversations asking if there is a way to avoid (increase) this and not have a major impact. Unfortunately we found ourselves there because we are trying to move forward in a sustainable way, we have cut as much as possible. “
Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon said he was not in favor of tax increases but agreed with Selleck and the rest of the city council that an increase was necessary to balance the budget while maintaining the quality of life, which has become a defining feature of Kilgore life has become.
The council unanimously approved the six cents increase from $ 0.539 to $ 0.599 per $ 100 valuation. The increase means a person who owns a $ 100,000 home in Kilgore, which is roughly the average home value here, will have to pay about $ 5 more per month or $ 60 more per year in property taxes . The Council also unanimously approved the budget for the coming year.