The Waxahachie City Council passed its budget for the 2013-2014 fiscal year during a special called meeting Wednesday morning.

The council and staff accomplished their goal of increasing service to resident without raising the tax rate, which will remain at $0.68 per $100 valuation.

“I think that it was a very good budget. We were able to do some things we have not been able to do in a while. For the past three years, what (city staff) has really tried to do is concentrate on the goals of the council. Those being economic development, public safety and infrastructure,” City Manager Paul Stevens said. “With all the building and potential development that is happening right now, we are extremely excited for the next fiscal year.”

While revenues are projected to increase by less than 1 percent compared to last year at $26.6 million, this year’s budget will add three firefighters, an animal control officer, a part-time maintenance worker for the senior center, a budget analyst for the finance department, a dispatcher for the police department, a planning coordinator for the planning department and three workers for the utilities department.

Stevens said this year’s budget will help boost many departments by adding needed staff and reopening positions that had been cut due to the recession.

At the end of the current budget, that ends Sept. 30 the city is expected to have $11.1 million in fund balance in the general fund. This gives the city 113 days in operating reserve funds.

A large purchase budgeted for this year is the addition of a ladder truck for the fire department. This new truck will replace the 1997 model that is currently in service at cost of $1.15 million, which includes the full cost of ordering and outfitting the vehicle with equipment. This balance has already been subtracted from the general fund in this year’s budget. The city plans to pay the full cost for the order and thus save $35,000 in interest if it had spread out the cost through scheduled payments.

At the meeting, Waxahachie Fire Chief Ricky Boyd requested that the council allow him to place the order for the new ladder truck immediately instead of waiting until Oct. 1 when the new fiscal year begins. Boyd explained that many departments throughout Texas will be placing orders at the same time, but by placing their order now, the city will ensure that their order is processed ahead of the crowd.

The 1997 model will be placed in reserve once the new ladder truck is put into service. Construction on the ladder truck is estimated at seven and half to eight and half months.

In other expenditures, the budget includes $1.2. million for street rehabilitation, $1.5 million earmarked for design and engineering of a new police station, and $44,000 for a parking lot relocation at Mid-Way Regional Airport to make room for new T-hangars.

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

The council approved the proposed water and wastewater budgets. Residents will see a five percent increase on their utility bill starting on Oct. 1. This increase will help to eliminate a $450,000 deficit in the water fund and a $300,000 deficit in the wastewater.

Councilors approved the budgets for the Robert W. Sokoll Water Treatment Plant, refuse fund, hotel tax fund, the Waxahachie Community Development Corporation (which manages the civic center and the sports complex) and the interest and sinking fund.

Stevens said due to the recession, the city has made difficult cuts in previous budget years and had to learn how to do things a little smarter on a tighter budget. Stevens added that he wanted to thank the city employees for their hard work and allowing the city to weather the storm.

In other business, the council:

approved an ordinance re-establishing classified positions under civil service for the police and fire departments

approved an interlocal agreement between the city and the North Central Texas Council of Governments to develop a natural disaster hazards mitigation plan approved a request for a fireworks show from The Avenue Church to celebrate its community service day. The five-minute firework show will take place Sunday, Sept. 29.

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