Texas mayors voice concerns on city spending caps

Several mayors from the Rio Grande Valley walk with Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, (gray suit), as the mayors prepared to meet with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on August 4, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
Several mayors from the Rio Grande Valley walk with Rep. Rene Oliveira, D-Brownsville, (gray suit), as the mayors prepared to meet with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on August 4, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

AUSTIN (Nexstar) — A bill in the Texas Senate would limit local government spending by setting revenue caps.

More than a dozen mayors across the state met with Gov. Greg Abbott to express their concerns over the legislation.

“Texas is very diverse in so many ways,” Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia said. “The [Rio Grande] valley is very diverse. We are talking about situations where one formula might affect every city in Texas.”

Following a Friday meeting with other mayors from the Rio Grande Valley and Abbott, Palm Valley’s George Rivera said he thinks Abbott will “do the right thing for small cities.”

Palm Valley Mayor George Rivera, right, Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia, center, and Palmhurst Mayor Ramiro Rodriguez, left, walk out of Governor Greg Abbott's office after a meeting on August 4, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
Palm Valley Mayor George Rivera, right, Edinburg Mayor Richard Garcia, center, and Palmhurst Mayor Ramiro Rodriguez, left, walk out of Governor Greg Abbott’s office after a meeting on August 4, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

One of the bills that worries them is Senate Bill 18, which would put caps on county and city spending, based on population and inflation increases.

“Flexibility is the key and we need to be able to trust our local voters to know our local issues and to know the best local solutions,” Amarillo Mayor Ginger Nelson said after her meeting with Abbott on July 27.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick took to Fox Business Network on Aug. 4, to point criticism toward city leaders statewide.

“Where do we have all our problems in America? Not at the state level, run by Republicans, but in our cities that are mostly controlled by Democrat mayors and Democrat city councilmen and women,” Patrick said on the program Varney & Co.

“The only place Democrats have control of is our cities and they’re doing a terrible job,” he continued.

Rivera said new restrictions that would come with SB 18 “won’t allow us to enhance our city.”

“Small cities like ours are based totally, our income is totally on property tax,” he said. “The revenue that small cities get from property taxes is something that is needed.”

Voters would need to approve increases if local spending reaches a certain point, according to Palmhurst Mayor Ramiro Rodriguez.

Nelson said attempting to fit cities into a “one size fits all” mold would not meet the needs of each individual municipality.

“Amarillo and as far as West Texas are traditionally and extremely fiscally responsible conservative so these bills detrimentally affect us even more than the cities they’re meant to address because our tax rates are already so low,” Nelson mentioned.

SB 18 is awaiting a vote in the Texas Senate.

Several mayors from the Rio Grande Valley meet with Rep. Rene Oliveira, D- Brownsville (center, end of table), as the mayors prepared to meet with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on August 4, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)
Several mayors from the Rio Grande Valley meet with Rep. Rene Oliveira, D- Brownsville (center, end of table), as the mayors prepared to meet with Texas Governor Greg Abbott on August 4, 2017. (Nexstar Photo/Wes Rapaport)

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