Thursday’s budget workshop gave the city council something it hadn’t had in previous sessions; clarity.
“We have a really clear path on how to balance our budget,” said City Councilwoman Debbie Lindsey-Opel.
In the latest proposal city staff found ways to offset the remaining shortfall.
First, the city plans to use $1.5 million from the Texas Ambulance Supplemental Payment Program to pay for increases in police and fire benefits. This is a one-time payment, but one the city can apply for every year.
“Why you consider that to be a one-time fund is you don’t know what’s going to happen year to year,” said Lindsey-Opel. “You are applying for it, and the program may go away, there’s no guarantee over time.”
The rest of the earlier shortfall will be made up by shifting property tax allocations; some juggling that city staff says will add about $1.8 million to the general fund.
The city’s property tax rate is 0.606264 %. Of that, 0.376% goes to maintenance and operation (M&O), while 0.229% goes to interest and shrinking (I&S), money the city uses to pay down debt.
“The shortfall is on the M & O side, however there is room on the interest and sinking fund side of our tax rate,” said Interim City Manager Keith Selman. “We’re looking to move one cent over.”
By finding these additional income sources, city staff prevented cuts to services like police, fire, code enforcement, and animal control. There are also no cuts to libraries or senior centers.
“There will not be the cuts that were so problematic and concerning,” said Lindsey-Opel. “The staff went back, they looked at it again, and what they brought to the council today said no cuts.”
Selman says he expects city staff to have a final draft of the budget ready for council approval in late July.