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Groves sets tax rate, approves slight water & sewer rate hike

GROVES — The City of Groves approved a tax rate of 74.91 cents per $100 valued for the upcoming year at this week’s city council meeting.

The rate decreased from 76.16.

“Long story short, it goes up a little bit in maintenance and operation and decreases in debt service,” City Manager D.E. Sosa said. “The increase revenue cannot be more than 3.5 percent by state law, so that was one of the big reasons the rate decreased this year.”

The maintenance and operation fund includes government functions and services such as the fire, police, streets, drainage parks, library activity building, garage, and property maintenance.

“The tax rate that we are going to levy is going to bring in an estimated $5.6 million,” Sosa said. “It costs the city $3.7 million to run the police department and $1.7 million to run the fire department. Those property taxes actually only cover fire and police.”

Out of a $20 million budget, $5.6 million comes from property taxes.

“The rest is sales tax revenue and a multitude of other things,” Sosa said. “I think it’s important for people to understand that their taxes are paying for only 25 percent of general government. The rest is made up from other revenue streams.”

The maintenance and operation fund excludes water, sewer and garbage services, which will see some changes in rate structure.

Both rates are now at an even $12.

“We increased the minimum rate for water and sewer from $11 to $12,” Sosa said. “That’s what everybody has to pay just to get service. On sewer, the base rate went from $11.25 to $12. We have also adjusted the sewer covered under the base rate. It is still the standard 2,000 gallons of water, but 1,500 gallons of sewer.”

The Groves City Council also approved the 2020 Certified Tax Roll.

Property values increased from $778 million to $822 million.

“That is an increase of about $44 million. Of that $44 million, $10 million was brand new construction and $34 million was increase on existing property,” Sosa said.

New construction for the City of Groves includes the Indian Springs Subdivision being built along Monroe Boulevard. It also includes all other new construction in the city that amounts to 145 new homes built in 2019.

The gated community will feature 100 to 150 lots. Each home is estimated to cost $300,000-$400,000.

Sosa said it is a spotlight on the city’s success in producing strong new construction and strong existing values is the city council Peace and Dignity Program for neighborhoods. The addition of a code enforcement officer several years ago has helped the program.

“For the last 15 years, the City of Groves has been protecting the peace and dignity of this town,” he said. “That’s why we see such good values. We’ve been really trying to make sure that all neighborhoods are clean. We stay on top of keeping the grass cut, tearing down dilapidated structures and making sure the city looks good.”

Sosa said the rising property value is an indication city efforts are working.

“It means that this is a desirable place to live,” he said. “A lot of times people complain about the value, but the increase is a good thing. It means Groves is clean and people want to live here. That’s good news, especially if you want to sell your house.”

The meeting wrapped up with discussion of the street program. The City of Groves will receive $2.5-3 million in Texas General Land Office money to begin street and curb work as soon as this winter.