Members of the Waxahachie City Council met to discuss the proposed 2013-2014 fiscal year budget at a workshop Monday afternoon. City Manger Paul Stevens outlined the budget during his presentation to the council.

“We believe this budget keeps us on the same track as the past several years with a commitment to improving infrastructure and public safety as well as continuing our emphasis of following our economic development strategic plan. There are also some other critical needs that will be addressed in the budget,” Stevens said. “As it has been for the for the past few year, there are encouraging signs of an economic recovery and we have been able to address many important issues in the city. However, we have been very cautious in not overextending the city in the process.”

Stevens said sales tax for the 2012-2013 fiscal year was budgeted to come in at $9.8 million. Sales tax is now estimated to come in at $9.13 million. Expenditures for the 2012-2013 fiscal year were budgeted at $27,168,025 and are estimated to come under budget by $1,128,364.

Stevens said revenues are expected to increase in the 2013-2014 fiscal year budget by less than 1 percent over the previous budget year to $26,645,280. The tax rate for property value is expected to stay the same at $0.68 per $100 valuation. At the end of the current budget, that ends Sept. 30 the city is expected to have $11,124, 288 in the general fund. This gives the city 113 days in operating reserve.

In the proposed budget city employees are expected to see an increase in costs for health coverage by 7 percent and workers compensation by 40 percent.

The city has budgeted $44,000 for a parking lot relocation to be able to construct new T-hangers at Mid-Way Regional Airport.

The police department has requested the city purchase two Chevrolet Caprice patrol cars to replace Ford Crown Victoria vehicles, which are no longer in production. Each Caprice police vehicle is estimated to cost $49,500 for a total of $99,000.

The department recommended the adding an additional dispatcher at the cost of $42,986 due to increase call load.

Stevens said under the new budget four corporal positions will be added. This will not add personnel to the police department but create opportunities for officers to gain career and supervisory development. The salary increase for these four positions could range from $11,933-$31,045. It was also recommended that $1.5 million be earmarked on design and engineering of a new police station.

The fire department requested the hiring of three additional firefighters. These additional firefighters would help the department keep overtime costs down by being able to fill in for others who are scheduled to be off, sick or are occupied with training. The cost of adding these three firefighters is $210,085.

The department is also looking to purchase a new ladder truck. The new ladder truck would replace the 1997 model that is currently in service at a price of  $1,155,000. Once the new ladder truck was delivered the older truck would be placed in reserve and be used if the new ladder truck had to go in for repair or maintenance.

The street budget includes $15,000 for professional services that are required for technical assistance in the implementation of the new storm water program for the city. This budget also includes fully funding the street rehabilitation program at a cost of $1.2 million.

In continuing the city’s mission to be a leader in economic development $250,000 has been budgeted for incentives to help bring businesses into the community.

The Health Department budgeted $200,000 to tear down approximately 50 houses that pose a health or safety danger to residents.

Chautauqua Auditorium has $30,000 budgeted to do much needed renovations on the interior that includes the stage, sound and lighting.

Stevens recommended that a planning coordinator be added to the planning department due to increased workload. Some of the functions of this position would include processing of development applications and answering inquiries from citizens and developers. The salary for this new position would be $85,200.  

The finance department is looking to add a budget analyst.  This staff member would take over the budget process, monitor department budgets and compile monthly budget reports. They would also look for ways that departments can save money throughout the year. The salary of this new staff member would be $75,000.

Director of Finance Charles Harris told the council it is expected that there will be a $450,000 deficit in the water fund at the Howard Road Water Treatment Plant.

Harris told the council that a 5 percent increase in water rates would plug the leak. However, if the council chose not to increase rates this year there is plenty of working capital in the fund to handle the deficit, Harris said.

A 5 percent increase is also being considered in the wastewater fund to handle a $300,000 deficit.

The council is considering a 5 percent increase along with a break-even rate at Sokoll Water Treatment Plant to cover operating expenses to balance the budget at the plant.  

The council is also considering adding three new employees to the utility department to work at the water treatment plants.  

The council will continue its work on the budget at the next meeting planned for 5 p.m. Monday, Sept. 16 before the regular scheduled city council meeting that starts at 7 p.m. The meeting will be held in the city council conference room at city hall. City hall is located at 401 S. Rogers St.

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