City council members will have workshops Monday, Tuesday and possibly Thursday to work on a preliminary $30.52 million budget for the 2008-’09 fiscal year submitted by City Manager Bobby Rountree.
The spending plan, which is 4 percent larger than the current budget, contains proposed pay raises of 4 percent for department heads and 6 percent for non-Civil Service employees. It places a 6 percent increase into a pool for police and firefighter salaries, with allocation determined during the Meet and Confer process.
Rountree’s proposed budget is balanced, and does not include an increase in the property tax rate, which is 74.52 cents per $100 valuation.
According to information Rountree included with the budget, factors affecting the numbers include:
• Pay raises and benefit costs - The city continues to experience significant turnover in key departments. Retirement benefits to the Texas Municipal Retirement System will increase by 11.3 percent, and medical insurance costs will increase by 11 percent.
• Property tax - Valuations are 6.7 percent higher than last year, resulting in an additional $279,391 in revenue.
• Sales tax - An increase of 1.5 percent is projected, adding $66,405 to revenue.
• Water revenue - Increases in the base rate are needed to cover increased bond payments to the Brown County Water Improvement District’s new water plant and the city’s water line replacement bonds. An increase in the consumption rate is needed to cover the increased cost of treated water from the water district.
• Sanitation and landfill revenue - significant increases in cell construction, fuel prices and the cost of heavy equipment will drive rates upwards.
• Fuel - Costs are expected to increase by 15 percent.
• Attrition - Two positions have been eliminated, saving $94,854. The Community Development Department has been eliminated, saving $8,770 over payroll costs.
• Infrastructure - The city wants to maintain funds for street, water line and sewer line replacement. The city has bond funds available for some street work and is looking at potential future bonds for major street improvements.
• To emphasize code enforcement, the city has reorganized the department into what is now called Development Services. Two positions have been transferred from the water and public works department into Development Services.
• Landfill - Annual funding for cell construction will increase by $308,000.
• Inflation - The inflation rate for cities during the last 12 months was 11.4 percent.