Expect the city of Granbury’s water and sewer rates to go up in the upcoming fiscal year, but don’t sweat the property tax rate.
It will likely stay the same and, at 0.3961 per $100 valuation, it is among the lowest in the region.
The proposed utility rate increases of 2.5% will fund capital improvement projects and make up for two years of inflation, according to City Manager Chris Coffman.
Those were some of the details discussed Monday at the city’s annual daylong budget workshop held at the Lake Granbury Conference Center. Every City Council member was in attendance.
The proposed $44 million budget for Fiscal Year 2021-2022 could undergo changes before the council votes to adopt it in September. The budget will take effect Oct. 1.
The city’s financial standing remains strong, with an A rating on the General Fund and an AA rating for the utility fund.
City officials will not receive property valuations from the Hood County Appraisal District until later this summer, according to Finance Director Eva Gregory, so property tax revenues, as well as other sources of revenue, were calculated based on conservative estimates.
Major commercial development permits issued in 2021 have included the remodel of Stonewater Church ($2.35 million), BeeHive Homes ($1.23 million) and the remodel of Brawner Intermediate School ($1.05 million).
Major residential development permits issued this year include Josiah Estates ($947,500), Hilltop Village ($8 million), Saratoga ($19 million), Harbor Lakes ($15 million) and Highland Park Bay (almost $1.46 million).
Here are some of the details about the proposed budget prepared by city staff:
- Property tax growth is estimated at 6.2% percent, higher than the current budget cycle’s 5.8%.
- Almost $7 million in property taxes are expected go into the Interest & Sinking (debt) fund and the Operations & Maintenance (O&M) fund. Just under $4 million, or 0.2263 cents of the 0.3961 property tax rate, will go to I&S and almost $3 million, or 0.1698 cents from the property tax rate, will go to O&M. That budget (O&M) is expected to decrease by 5%.
- Payment against the city’s more than $38 million in outstanding principal is predicted to be $4,158,803. Debts include the new $10 million police station on Loop 567 that is under construction, the airport runway expansion project and fire truck apparatus.
- Outstanding principal for I&S for the Utility Fund is approximately $85 million, and the planned payment for the upcoming fiscal year is $4,633,332.
- As part of the city’s fleet replacement strategy, the proposed budget recommends the purchase of five Tahoes for the Police Department, three of which will replace older vehicles and two of which will be new additions. Other vehicles suggested for purchase include a mosquito sprayer for the Street Department, a zero-turn mower and truck for the Parks Department and trucks for water distribution, wastewater treatment, groundwater and electric. A new Ford F-250 truck is recommended for fleet service. Payment will come from the General Fund ($407,785) and the Utility Fund ($201,005).
- Sales tax revenues are expected to increase by 10%.
- Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) revenues are predicted to hit $800,000 as tourism makes a comeback after a year of COVID-19.
During the worst of the pandemic, the city’s sales tax revenues declined by just 20%, according to city officials.
“We are a tourism-related economy and our efforts to attract tourists never ceased,” Coffman told the Hood County News on Tuesday. “We promoted #GranburyLove and encouraged people to come visit while observing the CDC guidelines. These efforts assisted our local businesses.”
City employees are likely to receive a 3% merit raise, but no increases are planned for the City Council. Council members receive stipends totaling $12,000 per year, and the mayor is paid $18,000.
The proposed budget allows for the hiring of four additional fulltime employees and one part-time employee, bringing the total number of full-time employees to 197 and the number of part-time employees to 19.
Discussions at the workshop detailed completed projects, projects that are in progress and future goals that fall under “strategic pillars for the future” – a proactive plan created by Coffman and the City Council in early 2016 just months after Coffman was hired. Those pillars are: infrastructure; economic development; tourism; development of city-owned property; the utilization of Lake Granbury (for boosting tourism, quality of life); and public safety.
Infrastructure plans currently in progress include spending $1 million per year on street improvements as part of a seven-year initiative. The city has no authority or financing to widen US Hwy. 377, but city officials are working with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) in hopes that the state agency will soon move forward on its plans to address growing traffic concerns on that main artery.
The city may soon be able to move forward with plans for a new wastewater treatment plant on the east side of town. The executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) announced last week that the city’s requested permit meets legal requirements.
Completed city projects include park improvements and Phase II of the water plant on East Pearl Street/Business 377.
Materials related to the proposed Fiscal Year 2021-2022 budget can be found on the city’s website, www.granbury.org. To find those materials, click on “Government” at the top of the homepage, then on “Watch Live Meetings Here.” Scroll down to “Past Meetings” and click on “City Council.”
“City Budget Workshop” is listed there. Click on “Agenda.” Imbedded in the agenda are links to “Budget Workshop Presentation” and “Council Workbook.” No video was taken at the workshop.