The Colony budget Community Center

Among the projects proposed for the 2019-20 fiscal year budget in The Colony is maintenance and upgrades to the Community Center. 

The Colony is proposing another year of a lower tax rate and could possibly provide other forms of financial relief.

During a budget and tax rate discussion at Tuesday’s City Council meeting, Assistant City Manager Tim Miller discussed plans to lower the tax rate from $0.6625 per $100 valuation to $0.66.

If the council adopts that rate it would be the 19th year of a tax rate decrease, though tax bills could still be higher as property values continue to rise.

Lowering the tax rate would provide approximately $130,000 in less revenue, Miller said.

Miller also presented an idea that had been discussed at the council retreat earlier this year of implementing a senior assessment freeze for residents over 65 and their surviving spouses for as long as they live in the house, similar to what Denton County offers. If the council goes forward with the plan it would be applied to the tax assessment in 2020.

Miller said this would translate to an average of $250,000 in lost revenue over the next six years and $1.6 million over that span.

Another idea from the retreat was providing veterans in the city a utility bill rebate. Active duty, retired or honorably discharged U.S. military veterans would be eligible for a discount on basic water, sewer and trash services.

Miller said there is a wide range of financial impact to the city. He said it’s projected there is anywhere from 3-7 percent of residents who would qualify. He said depending on that range and what percentage of a rebate the city decides to offer the lost revenue could be anywhere from approximately $35,000 to $85,000.

Mayor Joe McCourry said it’s likely the number of participants will actually be much lower, especially early on.

“This is a way to give back, and I don’t think it’s going to be a big knock on our water and utility bills,” McCourry said.

Miller said the benefit to the resident could range from $7.72 per month to $8.32.

The council will continue to discuss whether to implement the tax rate decrease, senior tax freeze and the veteran rebate, or just some of those options, at its Sept. 3 meeting.

Overall the city is projecting a fund balance in the general fund of $8.9 million, $3.6 million in the utility fund and $717,000 in the parks fund.

Among the key expenditures for 2019-20 throughout the city are 14 personnel additions, including six paramedics and five police officers. Of the five, three are patrol officers and two are expected to serve as school resource officers for Lewisville ISD and Little Elm ISD.

Miller said the debt service for the 2019-20 fiscal year is projected to increase by about $1.5 million.

He said the city is planning to use debt funds for just three projects this year, including $1.5 million on Phase 10 of the Eastvale streets, which features re-asphalting the roads.

“We’re paying cash for our projects this year to try to get that debt number down as low as we can so we don’t hamstring ourselves going forward any more than we have to,” Miller said.

Other expenditures include $1.4 million in payroll increases and the related equipment. The plan is to provide a blended 4 percent salary increase with $75,000 being the breaking point.  

Other key projects from various funds include construction of Fire Station 5 at $4.8 million, street projects, upgrade to the community center and recreation center, and $1 million in stormwater/drainage projects.

“With all the new development coming in here and around us we’re getting more water coming in,” Miller said. “If untreated it could eat away at our land, so we’re spending money now to maintain and upgrade it to keep the erosion in check.”

Highlights from the revenue side include a 16-percent increase in city property tax revenue from last year with half of that ($2.2 million) being from new construction.

Property tax revenue is projected to be $34.4 million. The valuation of the averaged cost home in The Colony increased 5 percent to $289,000.

The council is expected to adopt the budget and tax rate Sept. 17.

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