Brownwood City Council members agreed to lower the city’s property tax rate by just under 1 percent and cut $102,686 from City Manager Emily Crawford’s proposed $35.44 million budget during a workshop Thursday night.
The reduction brings the new total of the proposed budget for the 2018-’19 fiscal year to $35.34 million with no increases in utility rates projected.
The budget as originally presented had a tax rate of 79.46 cents per $100 valuation, the same as the current year’s tax rate. The day before Thursday’s workshop, the city was notified by the appraisal district that the effective tax rate for the new year is 78.69 cents, and council members decided in the Thursday workshop to set the tax rate at that amount — a reduction of .77 cents per $100 valuation, or .98 percent.
Council members will adopt the budget and tax rates in September.
The council had its first workshop Tuesday but did not complete its work on the budget, and returned for the additional workshop Thursday.
The city is budgeting for a 3 percent increase in sales tax revenue, which will increase revenue by $470,000.
Revenue decreases are projected in wastewater treatment, due to the City of Early constructing its own treatment plant, reducing revenue by $258,000. Water revenue is projected to be flat.
The water district will increase its wholesale treated water rate to the city by .92 percent. The proposed budget does not contain an increase in the retail water rate and will absorb the $14,000 cost.
The proposed budget contains a 3 percent pay increase for all city employees, adding $429,875 to the budget. There has not been a raise for city employees since the 2016-’17 fiscal year.
Factors affecting expenses, in addition to the proposed pay raise, include:
• The costs for providing medical insurance to city employees increased by 5.9 percent, adding $130,041.
• The proposed budget includes a new approach to acquiring and maintaining vehicles. The city currently has 110 vehicles including 25 in law enforcement. The city has replaced vehicles as it could in the normal budgeting process. The average turnover rate for a vehicle is 17 years, and the fleet has aged to the point that the normal replacement rate of less than seven vehicles per year has become untenable.
The city is proposing to enter a contract with Enterprise Fleet Services to lease vehicles. Under the proposal, the city’s fleet would be reduced to 98 vehicles and would be completely replaced over five years. The Enterprise program includes all routine maintenance. It is anticipated that the annual costs per vehicle will be reduced by $2,150, including depreciation, fuel and maintenance.
• In the police department, costs are down $76,908 primarily due to the elimination of vehicle replacements in the departmental budget.
• In the fire department, costs are up $143,605 due to increases in the cost of safety and medical supplies, payroll and capital costs.
• Street – department costs are up $66,390 primarily due to a transfer of an employee from the Sanitation Department to fleet services allow the addition of a mechanic to the department.
• Landfill – costs are up $235,845 primarily because of capital replacements and interfund transfers.
A copy of the proposed budget has been placed on file with the city secretary and the Brownwood Public Library.