The Colony City Council on Tuesday approved its budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which includes another year of a decreased property tax rate.
The rate will be $0.66 per $100 valuation, a decrease from the current rate of $0.6625.
This is the 19th year of a tax rate decrease, although property tax bills could still be higher with rising property values.
Tim Miller, assistant city manager, said the factoring in the increased property value and the additional revenue the city will bring in with this rate, it’s a 1-percent increase. But he said that is still well under the maximum increase municipalities are allowed to have (3.5 percent) without having an election, per the recently passed Senate Bill 2.
“So regardless of what the state does we have done our fiduciary duty to the citizens,” Miller said.
Mayor Joe McCourry said the city lived up to its promise to lower the tax rate when it can.
“The council together in our meetings, in the many, many years we’ve been together, made a pledge to the public that if we gain a little, they’re going to gain a little,” McCourry said. “We have tried to honor that philosophy. Our budgets have gone up a little so we’ve tried to give back so theirs goes down a little.”
He added that despite SB 2, The Colony has continued its downward trend for its tax rate.
“Based on what Austin did to us, you’re seeing cities around us change directions,” McCourry said. “We, thanks to some great financial managers we have here, hope we can budget as such that we can do that again in spite of what they do to us in Austin.”
McCourry pointed out that while other cities’ rates may appear to be lower than The Colony’s, some of those don’t include other taxes while The Colony’s rate is all inclusive.
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.
The budget includes a freeze on the municipal property tax assessment for residents 65 or older as well as the disabled. The idea was brought up by Councilman Richard Boyer. Miller said if the property values go down, the assessment would go down as well.
Miller said all assessments have been calculated for January, so it’s likely the bill will be higher in January 2020 than it was in January 2019.
“What this will do is freeze the assessment at that point,” Miller said. “So when those people who qualify under this go into January of 2021, it will be at the same level as it was in January 2020.”
The budget also includes a 10 percent rebate for veterans on the water and sewer bill, which they must apply for. It begins Nov. 1.
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.
Approximately $1.5 million in debt funds will go toward Phase 10 of the Eastvale streets, which features re-asphalting the roads.
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, upgrade to the community center and recreation center, and $1 million in stormwater/drainage projects.