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City of Socorro Passes $15m Budget and Tax Hike

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POSTED: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 10:31pm

UPDATED: Friday, September 14, 2012 - 10:51pm

After two public hearings and three city council meetings the City of Socorro finally came to a decision on the 2012-2013 budget. In a 4 to 1 vote the 15 million dollar budget finally passed Friday night.

Even though the meeting wasn't as crowded as expected, it was not short of residents voicing their opposition to the city's proposed property tax increase.

"We're living through very hard economic times right now, some people don't have a job, some people are struggling," said Socorro resident Suki Ramos.

And when those residents weren't allowed to speak in the meeting, they got even angrier.

"They've given a deaf ear to all the people of Socorro so we just left," said Socorro resident Ralph Duran after he walked out of the meeting.

According to council bylaws, public comment is not allowed during special city council meetings. As for the property tax, there hasn't been an increase in 8 years and Mayor Trini Lopez says it's not the time for one now.

"The people of Socorro that I have visited over the whole week, I found people in bed, ill. They're sick. The fixed income they have of 7 to $800 a month will be diminished," said Lopez.

Despite the residents concerns, council passed the 14.6% tax rate increase by a vote of 4 to 1. But the city says a tax increase would've happened anyway without an ordinance and here's why:

In 2011 the average price of a home was $78,481 which was taxed at nearly $.50 per $100 totaling $389.86 a year.

For 2012, the average price of a home has increased to $80,114 which is taxed at about $.50 per $100 dollars totaling $453.29 a year.

After tonight, the average homeowner will see their property taxes go up $60 a year. City of Socorro spokesman Dave Garcia says there are positives to the tax hike.

"There's a cost of living increase for all the employees of the city except police and municipal courts at 4%. So to see the positives, it really depends on the angle you look at. And one of them is the projects will continue and the quality of life issues are at the top of the list," said Garcia.

The city has until Tuesday to calculate the exact cost to give employees that 4% raise. But they estimate it will add more than $150,000 to the budget.

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