The City of Brownwood's 2011-'12 budget wasn't the most difficult one that's ever been put together, nor was it the easiest, Finance Director Walter Middleton said during a public hearing on the budget during Tuesday's council meeting.
Much went right, Middleton said, in the $29.93 million budget, which is just over 1 percent - $313,772 - larger than the 2010-'11 spending plan, and the first time in three years the city's budget will have grown. The budget has no increase in the city tax rate, and no increases in utility rates or fees despite the Brown County Water Improvement District's decision to increase its wholesale water rates by .46 percent.
Revenue is available to fund Meet and Confer pay raises of 6 percent for police and firefighters, and raises of 3 percent for all other city employees, Middleton said. But there were still difficulties including the necessity to postpone some capital expenditures, he said.
Council members took no action on the budget except to schedule dates for formally adopting the budget and the tax rate, which will remain unchanged at 74.52 cents per $100 valuation.
The council will adopt the budget on first reading on Sept. 20, and on second and third readings on Sept. 27.
As required by state law, the council will hold two public hearings on the tax rate because it exceeds the effective tax rate - the amount that would be necessary to bring the the same amount of revenue in the previous year. The hearings will be Sept. 6 and Sept. 13, and will be taken up for adoption at Sept. 20 and Sept. 27 council meetings.
Middleton presented highlights of the budget including:
• The certified tax roll increased the original estimates on property values and total revenue by increasing estimated property values from $710 million to $717.76 million, adding $57,855 to projected property tax revenue.
• The budget will raise more total property taxes than last year's budget by $100,720, or 1.9 percent.
• The water district's increase in the wholesale water rate added $8,526 to the city's budget.
• Sales tax revenue is projected to increase by 3 percent, and gross revenue from the aquatic center is projected to increase by $100,000 from the old Camp Bowie pool.
• Pay raises for city employees including police and firefighters added $452,552 to the budget.
• Medical insurance costs increased by 8 percent, or $100,611.
• The city will save $320,850 by deferring the cost of two new landfill cells for half a year due to lower waste volumes.
• Fuel costs are projected at 20 percent higher, or $125,410.
Mayor Stephen Haynes said the city administration had done a great job with the budget and noted that there have been no layoffs or reductions in city services.