The City of College Station’s proposed Fiscal Year 2012 budget includes the city’s lowest property tax rate in a decade and recommends no rate increases for electric, water or sanitation services.
The city council was presented with the proposed budget during Thursday’s workshop meeting at city hall. The council will conduct four days of budget workshops Aug. 15-18, followed by a public hearing on Sept. 8. Final adoption of the budget and tax rate is set for Sept. 22.
Budget Focus: Efficiency and Public Safety
The proposed budget totals $246,663,199, which includes $209,313,406 for operations and maintenance and $37,349,793 for capital projects. The budget focuses on increased efficiency and public safety, and is the first presented to the council by City Manager David Neeley, who was promoted in February. In July, Neeley announced a major reorganization of the city’s operations that would result in savings of more than $1.5 million.
Including the budget cuts achieved in Neeley’s reorganization, a total of $7,038,743 has been trimmed from the city’s operations and maintenance budget in the last four years, and 43.75 full-time equivalent staff positions have been eliminated. At the same time, the city has added, or has proposed to add as part of the FY 2012 budget, 35 public safety-related positions.
Lowest Property Tax Rate Since 2001
The proposed budget is based on an effective property tax rate of 43.7995 cents per $100 of assessed value, which is the city’s lowest since the rate was .4293 in 2001. The effective tax rate is the rate needed to generate about the same revenues on the same properties as the previous year. College Station has the third lowest property tax rate in Texas among cities with populations between 50,000 and 100,000 people.
The proposed rate represents a decrease of 0.9548 cents from the current rate of 44.7543, which would reduce the annual tax bill on a $200,000 home by $19.96.
No Increases for most Utility Rates
The proposed budget does not include an electric rate increase for the first time since 2005, and also reduces by $2 million the transfer from the electric fund to the city’s general fund. In addition, the budget does not include rate increases for water, sanitation or drainage. However, a 5 percent increase is proposed for wastewater rates, which would mean an increase of less than $2 per month for most homeowners. The increase is needed to fund operating, debt service and capital costs for the wastewater system.
Fire Station No. 6 Construction Nears
A budget of $1,853,555 is proposed to fund 18 firefighters and associated costs for Fire Station No. 6, which was approved by voters in the 2008 bond election and will be located at University Drive and Tarrow Street. Construction is set to begin this fall and will open in 2012. Other proposed capital fund projects include street overlays totaling $350,000 for Rock Prairie West, Brothers Boulevard, Post Oak Circle, Muirfield Village, Jones-Butler Road and Hardwood Lane.
The budget also recommends a 2.5 percent performance-based pay increase for city staff.
The complete budget proposal is available online at cstx.gov/budget.