The bill to adopt a three-eighths of a percentage point increase in gross receipts taxes intended to address the city’s growing crime problem and projected multi-million deficit was passed 8 to 1 by the City Council on March 5, making it “veto-proof,” as just six votes are needed to override a veto.
Keller signed the legislation last week.
“The decision was made for the City when Council passed a veto-proof and nearly unanimous bipartisan vote to help give our first responders the resources required to keep our streets safe and protect our kids,” Keller spokeswoman Alicia Manzano said in an emailed statement. “They were faced with a choice to own up to the financial realities of the deficit now or kick the can further down the road.”
On the campaign trail last year, Keller had promised to support tax increases only in dire circumstances and that any increase would go before voters.
“We preferred that this would have gone to the voters but we respect the City Council’s decision,” Manzano said. “We are prioritizing public safety in the upcoming budget that is underway. We look forward to working together to move our city forward.”
Keller had expressed concerns just before the council vote that waiting until an election could put the city in an even more precarious financial situation.
The city is currently facing a potential $40 million shortfall.
“I was pleased by the mayor signing the tax increase,” said Council President Ken Sanchez, who co-sponsored the legislation along with Councilor Trudy Jones. “Now the ball is in our court.”
Sanchez said it’s important the mayor and council ensure the revenue raised from the tax increase is used to hire more police officers and address the city’s public safety crisis.
The council passed an amendment to the bill stipulating that no less than 60 percent of the revenue be used for public safety needs in fiscal years 2019 and 2020.
The legislation had to be presented to the state Taxation and Revenue Department by April 1 for the city to start collecting on July 1.
Otherwise, collection would not have started until Jan. 1, 2019.