Proposed Brownwood budget raised to $36.17 million; includes tax reductions, pay raises

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
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BROWNWOOD — Brownwood officials released City Manager Emily Crawford's proposed $36.17 million budget for the 2021-2022 fiscal year, a spending plan that contains little growth — 0.23% or $84,319 — over the existing budget.

Other highlights include a reduction in the property tax rate for the second consecutive year and a small increase in the water rate.

According to documents in the proposed budget:

Factors affecting revenue

Property tax

The new property tax rate, if approved by council members, is $0.7448 per $100 valuation, a reduction of $1.06, or 1.42% reduction from the current rate. 

The property tax on a residence valued at $126,628 — the average residential value this year — would be reduced from $943 to $929 a year.

Sales tax

The City of Brownwood is budgeting for a 9.3% increase or $527,148 in sales tax revenue compared to 2020-2021 budget.

Water revenue

The water consumption rate is proposed to increase by 1.3%, meaning the average residential water customer will seen an increase of $0.30 a month. The Brown County Water Improvement District increased its wholesale rate for the 2020-2021 fiscal year — which the city absorbed without passing the cost on to water users — and for the 2021-2022 year.

Increases in water and sewer tap fees are also being recommended due to increased costs of meters and supplies.

Factors affecting expenses

Pay raises

A pay raise for on-civil service employees is budgeted at 3%, or $294,545.

Meet and Confer

Civil service pay adjustments are based on getting Brownwood employees to the average pay of nine comparable cities.

For the fire department, the increase is up to 3%, or $35,373. A new firefighter will be added at a cost of $64,350. 

For the police department, the pay increase is 3.5%, or $80,157, with education pay of $16,229.

Fire engine

A new fire engine costing $550,000 will replace a 21-year-old fire engine. The fire department's ladder truck will be paid off in 2021, and the note for the new engine will be less than the ladder truck. This will result in a decrease of nearly $100,000 in fire department capital from last year.

Fleet replacement 

11 vehicles will be replaced as part of an ongoing fleet replacement program, including four police vehicles. Lease payments are $95,000.

Parks improvements

Several projects are in the budget, including the refurbishment of the Wiggins Park swimming pool at $150,000. Smaller improvements for other parks totaling $37,000 are also budgeted.

Downtown  

Improvements to downtown streetscaping, lighting, landscaping and public art is budgeted at $18,000.

City council members were scheduled to have a budget workshop at 4 p.m. Tuesday, and another workshop, if needed, beginning at 5 p.m. Thursday. The council will adopt the budget on Sept. 28.