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Share wealth with taxpayers

Plenty of positive signs appeared on the certified tax rolls released last week by the Denton Central Appraisal District.

The certified rolls are much-anticipated because they tell all county taxing entities how much revenue they will receive to finance next year’s budgets.

Last week’s figures showed that Denton County and many of its cities and school districts saw growth of 10 percent or more in their respective tax rolls.

This year, Trophy Club joined 10 other Denton County cities with at least $1 billion in taxable value from homes, businesses and minerals.

The news is a solid indication that the county is attracting new businesses and residents and that the prosperity and growth enjoyed in recent years will likely continue.

The county is still seeing building permits, new lots coming into development and existing home sales going up, so the growth will continue at least for another year, according to Rudy Durham, chief appraiser for the Denton Central Appraisal District.

Some cities fared better than others. Values for the city of Pilot Point went down 1 percent and values in Justin were down 0.3 percent, Durham told us.

Bryan Langley, an assistant city manager for the city of Denton, said some of the city’s 12 percent tax roll increase came from new businesses, homes and apartments. The city had about $200 million in new construction last year, he said.

The rest of the increase, about $600 million, came on existing properties, he added, which is further evidence of a strengthening economy.

Yes, Denton and many other cities in the county definitely have a reason to celebrate, but we urge officials to do so in moderation and avoid any spending sprees.

Let’s face it — an increase in property values means that most of us will be paying more in taxes, even at our existing rates.

That’s a tax increase, plain and simple, even if city and school district officials are careful to avoid using that term when discussing finances at budget time.

We’ve been told that the growth in the tax rolls might mean one type of relief for some Denton taxpayers, with the city and county likely to hold the line on a tax rate increase this year. Denton city staff members have recommended that the city not go through with a planned 1 cent increase.

We hope that other taxing entities will be equally careful about weighing the need to ask for more money and resist any impulse to do so.

City leaders and the Denton school district — which is proposing an increase — will discuss the certified values as part of budget talks planned this week.

City leaders have a budget workshop planned for Thursday, and the school board will discuss the values at a meeting today.

When officials celebrate the good news about the growing tax rolls, we encourage them to remember that those who fund the bottom line should be allowed to benefit from any newfound prosperity.

In order for that to happen, officials must cut unnecessary spending and avoid unwarranted tax increases.

That would be the best way to share the wealth.