Workers frame a home in the new Park Meadows subdivision on the border of Waco near Hewitt. Greater Waco is experiencing a surge of demand for new and existing homes.

Staff photo — Jerry Larson, file

The net taxable value of property in Waco increased by 9 percent, to $9.24 billion during the past year, the jump due in part to $80 million in new commercial construction, according to certified tax rolls the McLennan County Appraisal District is releasing this week.

Net taxable values countywide increased 8 percent to $15.4 billion during the same period, giving McLennan County commissioners the financial flexibility to propose a 2-cent drop in the county’s tax rate for fiscal 2018, McLennan County Judge Scott Felton said.

“It’s been another good year, but this trend won’t last forever,” Felton said.

Commissioners have voted to increase the county’s contribution to a city-and-county-sponsored economic development fund from $1.75 million to $2 million annually, matching Waco’s pledge, he said.

“We feel our economic development efforts are working, and we are seeing a return on our investment back to the community,” Felton said. “One of our goals remains to increase the amount of taxable commercial and industrial property to pull some of the burden off homeowners.”

Waco City Manager Dale Fisseler said increased property values, though not surprising, “represent more good news for the city,” and a projected $286,171 will go into Waco’s fund balance.

“The bond rating agencies look at that, and we probably will be issuing bonds again next spring,” Fisseler said.

The Waco City Council has discussed $11.9 million in projects that include $8.9 million in street improvements; Relocating Fire Station No. 7; $500,000 to renovate the Waco Suspension Bridge; and $300,000 for general parks upgrades.

City of Waco budget officer Laura Chiota said the city’s property tax rate is projected to remain unchanged at 77.6 cents per $100 of property value.

The McLennan County Appraisal District reported the combined net taxable value of 19 cities, 20 school districts, McLennan County, McLennan Community College and four special purpose taxing districts increased from $56.8 billion to $60.9 billion since the tax rolls were certified in 2016.

Those figures include new construction and reappraisals, assistant chief appraiser Joe Bobbitt said.

“The state came in last year and told us we were 6 percent behind on our residential appraisals, so along with normal gains in property valuations we were playing catch-up,” Bobbitt said.

Bobbitt said the certified tax rolls give school districts and municipalities a guideline for preparing their budgets and setting a tax rate. Still, the net taxable totals may change because hundreds of millions in valuations have been contested and remain under review.

Waco Independent School District saw its net taxable property value increase from $4.8 billion to $5.3 billion, while Midway ISD property values increased from $4.15 billion to $4.4 billion, according to the appraisal district.

Waco ISD is considering a 1-cent boost in its tax rate.

The average taxable value of a home in Waco increased from $118,829 to $129,027 the past year. Countywide, the average home value increased from $113,150 to $122,377. In Midway ISD, the average home value increased from $175,893 to $191,146. In Waco ISD, the average home value increased from $75,918 to $84,296.

In the city of Woodway, the average home value increased from $220,017 to $237,057, according to the appraisal district’s tally.

Companies with the largest taxable property value in the city of Waco were identified as Allergan, a local maker of eye care products, $95 million; Sanderson Farms, a producer of poultry products, $77 million; candymaker Mars Snackfood USA, $76 million; L-3 Holdings, which modifies aircraft, $70 million; and Owens-Brockway Glass Container Inc., $63 million.

Among the larger commercial or industrial projects that contributed to higher property valuations was the decision by Sherwin-Williams to build a $39 million distribution center on Concord Road that replaced a facility it was leasing. The paint company will receive $4 million in incentives from the city-county economic development fund and $1.78 million in tax breaks for its decision that keeps 264 full-time positions in McLennan County.

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