Brownwood City Council members have completed their workshops on City Manager Emily Crawford’s proposed $36.23 million budget for the 2019-’20 fiscal year, which will be adopted next month along with a tax rate expected to remain at  78.69 cents per $100 valuation.

At the council’s workshop Tuesday, council members took up the topic of a potential tax note to pay for improvements to city facilities. The council  indicated it will consider issuing a tax note later this year — probably in November or December — to fund improvements. An explanation of a potential tax note was included in budget documents.

City department heads had requested $1.17 million for facility improvements. The proposed budget does not contain funding for the requests but could potentially be included in a tax note, budget documents state. 

The projects included:

• Resurfacing the Camp Bowie Aquatic Center pool

• Remodeling Fire Station 2

• Replacing the HVAC center at the Brownwood Coliseum

• Replacing concrete piers at the Adams Street Community Center to correct foundation issues.

• Installing insulation in the city garage, or fleet services center, which is located next to the youth fair grounds.

Council members indicated at the Tuesday workshop they want to include the Adams Street Community Center and fleet services projects in the budget, which will cost a total of $44,000. Council members were told those are two projects that should not be delayed.

City Finance Director Walter Middleton said the 78.69 cent tax rate, while the same as the existing rate, is 3.4 percent higher than the effective tax rate — the rate that would bring in the same amount of revenue in the new fiscal year as in the current year. That tax rate will generate an increase in $298,341 increase in revenue, an increase of 4.4 percent.

The proposed budged is a 2.5 percent larger than the existing budget and contains small increases in utility rates.
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.

According to budget documents:

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 to 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.