On July 3, the Graham City Council continued its 2015 budget planning process by discussing the city’s projected income for the next fiscal year beginning Oct. 1. Through unprecedented drought conditions Grahamites are doing their part to save water, said City Manager David Casteel, but as water usage decreases so does the city’s revenue.

“We pull less, we sell less,” Casteel said at meeting Thursday morning. “It appears that we’re having excellent adherence to the stage-three restrictions. We’re at 71 percent of the last two years average on raw water pulled, which is a blessing on keeping the lake, but it’s an issue Mr. (Financial Director David) Maddy is going to have to discuss about revenue.”

Current tax rates

Casteel presented data on the current tax rates for Graham residents as compared to neighboring cities. According to his data, Grahamites experience a lower city tax of .608, or 60.8  cents for every $100 of property valuation, than neighboring Breckenridge at .890 and Jacksboro at 1.18, nearly twice Graham’s rate.

Property owners in Graham currently pay a tax rate of 2.959 compared to a rate of 2.947 in Breckenridge, Springtown’s rate of 2.6198 and Jacksboro’s rate of 3.339.

“They (Jacksboro) have invested in some schools over there for sure, and they built a new hospital and their city tax is quite a bit higher than ours,” said Casteel.

Property tax revenue will increase

Young County Tax Appraiser Luke Robbins presented a preliminary value for taxable property at $390,483,665. This number will change as some values are currently being protested. Robbins said he will have a certified figure on or before July 25, but he expects the certified value to be five to five-and-a-half percent over 2013’s figure of $373,845,420. A five-percent jump would increase the figure to $392,537,691.

City of Graham Financial Director David Maddy explained that Graham’s net taxable value hasn’t really grown the last few years.

“Because of the economy, the appraisal district kind of leveled out their assessments for several years,” Maddy said. “Now they are seeing the need to start raising those values up to more approach the market values.”

The increase in the city’s taxable value means more revenue for the city.

“Even if we kept the same tax rate, but on a higher tax base, we would automatically see some revenue growth,” Maddy said.

Read the entire story in Wednesday's Graham Leader.