Residents are likely to pay more in taxes to Tarrant Regional Water District, after board members voted to keep its tax rate the same for the third year in a row.
The board of directors unanimously approved the tax rate of 2.87 cents per $100 of valuation. Average property values grew over 7% in the last year, and the average home market value in the water district rose from $206,487 to $221,634 in the past year, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District.
Board member Mary Kelleher asked if the district could refund taxpayers surplus dollars. CFO Sandy Newby said there is “no way” the district could issue tax refunds.
The district expects to receive $22 million in tax revenue.
Members also approved the district’s budgets for the general, revenue, and special projects and contingency funds.
The vote follows a Monday public hearing where several residents called for a forensic audit of the district. Attorneys with the district and board members are discussing legal issues around former board president Jack Stevens’ authorized payment of $300,000 to now-retired general manager Jim Oliver and $60,000 to Panther Island executive director J.D. Granger. Several people who commented Monday reprised their complaints during the Tuesday meeting.
The board discussed but did not vote on updated ethics, nepotism and code of conduct policies. Proposed new policy language prohibits individual directors from speaking or acting on behalf of the group, sets ethical standards for the manager and prohibits directors from appointing relatives to district positions. New policies also give the board the authority to vote on a director’s removal, should they miss several consecutive meetings.
Kelleher said though the edited policies were necessary, the district needs more time to gauge public opinion on the changes.
“I think this is a great move forward,” Kelleher said. “I kind of feel rushed, though.”
Board member James Hill agreed. President Leah King told directors the board did not have to vote on the policies Tuesday.
Kelleher also asked for more consistent language prohibiting members from hiring unmarried significant others, after resident Doreen Geiger raised concerns about the policy.
“This definition of nepotism should be used consistently throughout board policies,” Geiger said.