‘Excited about the future’
COVID-19 has forced some municipalities to lay off employees – even police officers – but that won’t be happening in Granbury, City Manager Chris Coffman affirmed Monday.
Other signs that life will go on are that development projects are moving forward, as are capital improvement projects that had already been funded and approved by the City Council before the pandemic hit. Also a plus: sales tax revenues for March were down by just 2.87%.
“We’re excited about the future,” Coffman said. “People are still building houses, subdivisions are still growing. We’re anticipating a full recovery.
“At some point, the tourism industry will be back. Folks will be traveling here for conferences and events, just like they did before COVID happened.”
No one really knows how long it will take for tourism to come back full throttle, though, and right now Coffman doesn’t have all the answers where the next fiscal year’s budget is concerned.
He said that he will meet later in the week with Finance Director Eva Gregory in preparation for the City Council’s annual budget workshop, which will be held on June 1. The council will vote on the 2020-2021 Fiscal Year budget in September, and it will take effect Oct. 1.
Coffman said he will have to “make some tough decisions” and figure out how to make projections off of current revenues.
“A lot of science goes into that, and also a lot of gut feelings,” he stated.
Coffman said that he has spoken with council members individually and that none of them feel inclined to encumber already-burdened homeowners with a property tax rate increase.
As for personnel, Coffman said that the council considers them to be the city’s No. 1 asset. There are about 200 city employees, Coffman said, and 170 of them are full-time.
“We don’t have a fat layer of city government here,” he stated. “We’re pretty lean, and we’re always looking for ways to be more efficient.”
The city manager said that some cities have been hit harder economically than others during the pandemic. Granbury is in good shape due to stronger cash reserves that were created “through policy and budgeting,” he said.
The city has long held a strong credit rating.
Last week, the City Council approved a transfer of more than $3 million to the Texas Department of Transportation’s Aviation Division for the city’s estimated share of funding for the earthwork phase of the airport expansion project.
That means that dirt will begin moving soon on the new 5,200-foot-long runway. Much of the expansion project, which has been in the works for years, is grantfunded.
Recently funded capital improvement projects that are moving forward include completion of the water treatment facility on East Pearl Street, wastewater improvements and a new roof for Decker Gym.
Those ventures will create jobs, Coffman said.
For now, parks-related plans are being moved to a back burner, he stated. That includes expansion of the deck behind the Lake Granbury Conference Center to allow for live music and larger crowds.
Assistant City Manager Michael Ross said that the city is currently accepting proposals for Construction Manager at Risk for the new police station.
He anticipates that the final plat will go before the City Council for approval in August.
Once that is approved, dirt will start turning pretty quickly, he said.
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