Brownwood city officials released City Manager Emily Crawford’s proposed $36.23 million budget for the 2019-’20 fiscal year, a 2.5 percent increase over the current budget that contains small increases in utility rates.

The budget is based on the existing tax rate of 78.69 cents per $100 valuation.

Based on proposed utility rate increases, the “average residential customer” will see a $4.45 increase per month on utility bills or $53.40 annually, budget documents state.

The council will have a budget workshop beginning at 4 p.m. Thursday.

The proposed budget is on file with the city secretary and with the Brownwood Public Library.

Factors affecting revenue

• Water rate — an increase of $3 a month in the water base rate for a 3/4-inch meter, with proportional increases in larger meters is proposed. The reason for the increase is that water revenue this year has been down 13 percent from last year. The city has not met water consumption revenue due to heavy rainfall.

• Sewer rate — a 3 percent increase is proposed, which would increase the minimum monthly rate to increase by 80 cents, or $9.60 a year. The increase is because of lower water consumption. Sewer revenue is down 8.4 percent from last year.

• Sanitation rate — a 3 percent increase is proposed, which would raise the average monthly residential rate by 65 cents a month, or $7.80 annually. The increase is to cover the cost of service delivery.

• Landfill gate rate — an increase of $2 per ton is proposed. 

Factors affecting expenses

• Pay raises — A proposed 2 percent pay raise for non-civil service employees adds $204,290 to the budget.

Civil service pay increase for fire and police based on Meet and Confer  is proposed at a minimum of 2 percent, plus additional raises for a total of $124,170.

• Vehicle replacement — Phase 2 of the Enterprise fleet replacement program will replace 17 vehicles in the current year, including four Tahoe police vehicles. The budget will increase by $74,062 for current lease payments, savings on fuel and maintenance and trade-in values on vehicles being replaced. 

The budget will also increase by $66,232 for Phase 1 of the fleet replacement program, since the city had 12 payments in the second year and will not have trade-in values and other savings to offset the cost.

• Automated Meter Reading (AMR) — Software and additional meters have been included the begin the first phase of AMR this year, increasing the budget by $80,000.

• Fire — Overall costs increased by $115,000, mostly in capital costs including replacement of out-of-date safety equipment.

• Landfill — Overall costs increased by $154,125 due to a guaranteed buyback of $175,000 in the budget for a dozer that is paying off this year. This amount is offset on the revenue side for the payment from the vendor.

• Potential tax notes — The proposed budget included cuts of $1.17 million for facility improvements requested by department heads. A tax note will be proposed in the upcoming year to fund some or all of the costs, which include resurfacing the Camp Bowie Aquatic Center pool, remodeling at Fire Station 2, replacement of the HVAC system at the coliseum and replacement of concrete piers at the Adams Street Community Center.

If Brownwood City Council members are willing to consider a tax note to fund the improvements, the proposed budget can go forward. If not, the budget will have to have modifications because some of the items cannot wait, a budget document states.

Path to a balanced budget

According to a budget document, the budget process began with department head requests, which resulted in a beginning deficit of $4.84 million after initial revenue projections.

After meetings with department heads, requests were cut by $3.9 million.

Revenue projects from rate increases and other adjustments increased revenue by $857,211, resulting in a balanced budget.