LETTERS: Let’s re-think our priorities: The proposed 4-cent tax hike

The proposed 4-cent tax hike is meant to close the gap of a $1.3 M shortfall for items within the City of Harlingen’s general fund budget. Some of these items include nine police cars, fire department equipment, bucket trucks, emergency generators, public library elevator controls, etc. All appear as justifiable needs for the City of Harlingen, but what is the number one priority right now?

The City of Harlingen just suffered one of the most devastating flood events in history, dubbed the “Great June Flood Part II” by the National Weather Service. Flood victims are still suffering hardships. Do we really need a property tax hike right now? Why can’t the City leaders tighten their belts and find alternate solutions for funding these capital expenditures?

On April 28, 2019, Mayor Chris Boswell was asked in the VMS Mayoral Candidate Questionnaire, “How would you describe the city’s current financial situation, including the property tax rate…?” His answer was “The City is in excellent financial condition.” Mayor Chris Boswell was also asked, “Specifically, what are the city’s short-term and long-term infrastructure needs…?” His answer was, “Streets and drainage are the top infrastructure priorities.”

Raising property taxes by 4-cents does not match the mayoral candidate’s answer. Keep in mind that absolutely 0-cents out of the 4-cent tax hike will be used for drainage improvements. This makes absolutely zero sense.

I hope this administration can explore alternative solutions to raising our property taxes, while keeping in mind priority number one: drainage. The citizens of Harlingen simply cannot afford this 4-cent tax hike right now.

Citizens of Harlingen, please join the discussion at the City Commission meeting today, August 7 at 5:30 p.m. and on August 21, 2019.

Respectfully, J.V. Garcia Harlingen