Amarillo, TX - Some property owners in Amarillo could see an extra $26 added to their taxes each year with the approval of a new Potter County budget.
The budget proposes a 4.25 percent property tax increase, something Potter County said will be beneficial for the community, while others disagree.
"I think it's ridiculous," Ryan Brown, an attorney with Blackburn and Brown, said. "They're just ignoring the facts here and they just want more money, bigger government, more money, bigger government and that's absurd."
The tax increase would generate an additional $2.6 million in tax revenue. The budget has received preliminary approval, increasing a $100,000 home's property tax from $634 to $660. Potter County Judge, Nancy Tanner, said the county has a duty to protect citizens, and that's what this budget is doing.
In three of the last 6 years, the county did not raise taxes, therefore the county is now playing catch up. Judge Tanner said the money will go toward a new $1.9 million fire station, an additional bailiff in the child support court, and a new mental health court. A contract for $1.09 million to pay for potter county's portion of the downtown parking garage project was also proposed.
Judge Tanner said residents would only see a $2 a month increase, and if the county expands with new homes, new construction would alleviate those funds.
"They're asking the wrong questions here, the question is not should we raise taxes and how much," Brown said. "The question is how can we spend less?"
Amarillo Citizens for Open Government, or ACOG, have a solution, cut $5 million out of the $13.7 million budgeted for corrections and rehabilitation.
"We can cut $5 million out of that," Brown said. "You know, just by not putting people in there that shouldn't be there. Low level marijuana cases, ticket and release them. People who forget their wallet at home, people who forget their wallet and get ticketed for failure to identify. Those people shouldn't be sitting in jail. That's wasting $5 million a year. That's almost double what they are asking for from taxpayers."