They've heard it all before.
Only a few people showed up Tuesday evening at a public hearing to protest what appears to be a fait accompli, a proposal of raising property taxes to the maximum of the rollback rate, which is 53.5293 cents per $100 property valuation.
That is as high as the court can raise it without triggering an election. The current tax rate is 48.4258 cents. That would result in a raise of 5.1 cents.
At the current rate, a residential tax bill would be $484.25 on a $100,000 home. If the new tax rate is approved, that tax bill would be $535.29, for an increase of $51.04.
Most people don't have $50 to spare, according to members of the Waco Tea Party.
The tax hike is not taking place in a vacuum. One lady from the rural city of Lorena said her home is valued at $7,000 more this year than last. Her tax bill for the coming year is up across the board for all taxing entities.
“You're going to tax me out,” she said.
Two key issues that drew the ire of tax payers were the debt service on the for-profit Jack Harwell Detention Center, a $49 million public project financed by non-voter approved revenue bonds in 2009, which has yet to produce a profit, and a $l.5 million annual contribution to the joint City of Waco-McLennan County Economic Development Corporation, which lures multinational corporations into key industrial locations locally.
Tea Party co-founder Mike Simon cited a dramatic increase in jail expense that has seen the total operation budget balloon from $750,000 to $6 million over a period of only a few years.
At the end of the hearing, CountyJudge Scott Felton replied, “Your words did not fall on deaf ears.” (click here to read an earlier report)