Stack of cash

Uncertainty surrounds Carrollton's budget for fiscal year 2021, as the appraisal district is behind on its valuations, Carrollton's Chief Financial Officer presented Tuesday. 

Bob Scott, the city's CFO, presented a preliminary budget with an estimated tax rate of $0.607 per $100 of valuation, which would be an increase of the city's current rate of $0.589 per $100 of valuation. 

The preliminary debt service rate is $0.146 and the maintenance and operations rate is $0.461. 

Scott said the preliminary tax rate for 2021 is higher from previous year due to a growing share of residents challenging their property’s value. The preliminary budget, Scott said, is based on certified estimates rather the certified roll for assessed values. 

He added that 90% of properties have to be certified and unchanged in value. Scott said just 1% of the city’s property values were under protest. That number ballooned to 35% in 2020. 

Properties under protest accounted for just $130 million of the more than $15 billion in assessed value. This year, $6.1 billion of the city’s assessed value is under protest – nearly one-third of the city’s tax roll. 

“We fully expect that the values will come in much higher than what the values we’ve had to use in the roll,” Scott said. 

He added that the tax rate that the staff proposes is usually the rate approved by the council. Scott, however, noted, “we do not think that’s going to happen this year.” 

“We do not want that to happen. We feel like as we receive additional information and additional value coming in that’s certified, we can bring a recommendation to the council for a lower rate,” he said. 

Carrollton Mayor Kevin Falconer said now is not the ideal time to raise rates. 

“My guess is that none of us are interested in raising our rate this year, because this is not a good time to be raising rates on our citizens,” he said. 

Falconer added that after the dust settles, “we’ll be OK.”

Scott said 2020 has been “anything but a normal year,” and 2021 will present new challenges, as it will be the primary year for Senate Bill 2 implementation, which reforms the property tax system. Among the items it impacts are changes to the appeals process and tighter timing for public hearing and adoptions. 

Scott added that the preliminary general fund balance for fiscal year 2021 is $18.3 million. Residential solid waste collection is projected to rise monthly by 50 cents.

Water and sewer rates are forecasted to rise 7.4% over the next three years, which Scott called “relatively moderate” and could be impacted by usage. 

The fiscal year 2021 budget is calling for a 4.5% increase in water and sewer rates, effective Jan. 1, 2021. Scott added the proposed increase will be re-evaluated after the final quarter of the fiscal year, as the final quarter contains the highest usage, which could be used to determine if the increase is necessary. 

Mixed-use development approved

The council unanimously approved a mixed-use development along a 4-acre tract of land near Interstate 35E on Tuesday. Council member Young Sung did not vote on the matter due to a conflict of interest. 

The project is proposed to be between I-35E and Broadway Road and South of Dickerson Parkway. 

City documents state the proposed development is a six-story multi-use building with 328 multi-family units. The first floor would contain 6,000 square feet of restaurant space and 4,500 square feet of retail space. A parking garage is include and would support 457 parking spaces. 

Carrollton’s Planning and Zoning Commission recommended approval of the project on July 2. 

Recommendations included an amendment to the Transportation Thoroughfare Plan be required to reclassify Broadway Street from a four-lane undivided collector to a three-lane urban collector street before issuing a permit. 

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