City of Early's proposed budget up, tax rate down

Steve Nash
Brownwood Bulletin
City of Early

EARLY — The City of Early’s proposed budget for the 2021-22 fiscal year includes an additional full-time firefighter, an additional police officer and pay increases for city employees.

Revenue for the budget is projected at $9.8 million, a 12% increase over the existing budget, and expenditures of $9.5 million, a 25% increase.

The budget will be finalized on Aug. 20.

The proposed spending plan is based on lowering the tax rate from $.5310 to $.4993 per $100 valuation, a reduction of 6.34%, City Administrator Tony Aaron said.

Public hearings on the proposed rate will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 10, and at noon on Friday, Aug. 13.

A public hearing on the budget will be held at noon Friday, Aug. 20.

“I think we have a very good proposed budget, considering all the factors that are affecting us, from COVID, American Rescue Plan funds, the volatility of the economy," Aaron said. "To be able to reduce our tax rate by 6%, and still provide great services, is a positive situation to be in,” Aaron said. 

Highlights of the budget include:

* The additional police department will be a code enforcement/patrol officer.

• If all assessed property taxes are collected, the budget will increase property tax revenue by 7%, or just under $90,000.

• Property value in the city, as certified by the Brown County Appraisal District, is just over $317 million, an increase of $32.9 million.

• $47.5 million of the assessed value is contested by a state lawsuit. The contested value represents $189,933 in tax revenue. If the court case is not settled within the budget year or if the plaintiff wins, the city will not collected any of the contested value and could actually collect less revenue than the 2020-21 fiscal year.

Aaron said the potential loss of that revenue has been factored into the budget.

 • The budget contains funds for a new firefighting brush truck, two new police patrol vehicles, construction of a new road and reconstruction of two streets.

• Improvements will continue at the ball field complex and McDonald Park. Construction of the Town Center Park along the Pecan Bayou will begin.

• More than 4,000 feet of aged sewer line will be rehabilitated, and the city will continue to replace aged fire hydrants and water meters.

• The budget contains a 3% cost of living pay increase for the city's administrative and clerical staff, as well as an hourly rate increase for public works and parks employees, police officers and firefighters.