Small Tax Cut Stands After Second Westlake Budget Hearing

It’s official. The City of Westlake has actually cut taxes — even if only a little.

During the Monday, Sept. 18 required second and final budget hearing, the Westlake City Council voted 5-0 to lower the residential property tax millage rate from 5.125 mills to 5.1 mills.

That means that the average Westlake homeowner whose house has an assessed value of $450,000 and a $50,000 homestead exemption will pay approximately $2,040 in city taxes in 2023 — a reduction of about $10 over the 2022 budget.

“I’m glad we were able to lower the millage rate even if it is ever so slightly,” Mayor JohnPaul O’Connor said after the vote. “Still, it’s a move in the right direction.”

Westlake’s overall budget for 2023 is $7,899,000, a 23.3 percent increase over the 2022 budget of $6,405,600. The increase is made possible by a 69 percent increase ($1,371,928) in property tax revenues, and the final year of a budget support stipend from Minto, the community’s largest developer and landowner.

For 2023, Minto will put in up to $762,000. While down from the $930,000 in the current fiscal year, Minto’s contribution still represents 11 percent of the upcoming budget.

City Manager Kenneth Cassel, whose job it is to organize and propose a budget for the council’s consideration, said he was not surprised by any of the requests from council members but did underestimate the degree of involvement that these very new leaders plan to undertake at the county and state level. That required some increase in funding for travel to conferences, legislative events and similar functions.

O’Connor, who was then serving on the council as vice mayor, is the only remaining elected official of the five in office in November 2021.

“I’m happy to see that [new council members] want to be more involved at the county and state level,” said Cassel, who has been city manager since Westlake’s inception in 2016. “[Mayor O’Connor] definitely has had a positive impact, but the others also want to be involved. This is an extremely cohesive, positive thinking-group of people.”

Cassel had proposed keeping the millage rate at 5.125, where it had been since 2016.

But at the last minute, during the city’s first budget hearing on Sept. 6, Minto stepped up and said it would backfill any shortfall created by the small millage reduction.

Monday’s hearing lasted just eight minutes. There were no public comments.

The new fiscal year begins Oct. 1.