WAXAHACHIE — Continuing to improve infrastructure, replacing equipment and economic development efforts are the focus of the Waxahachie City Council during its ongoing budget workshops.

On Monday, city council members talked at length about the needs for the upcoming fiscal year that includes revenue in the general fund estimated at $38,510,510. The number is an increase of $4,097,710 from the previous year.

Expenses are estimated at $36,774,580 for the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1.

Director of Finance Charles Harris stated that the tax rate would remain the same at $0.68 per $100 of valuation.

“When you look at our revenue numbers compared to expenditures we still have a surplus budget. We are able to add staff in critical positions. We are able to buy equipment and we are able to do some things for the long term,” City Manager Paul Stevens said. “I really don’t think that we could ask for more in a budget.”

Stevens stated that the surplus is attributed to healthy growth in sales tax and property tax with new construction taking place. He added that he sees this trend to carry over into the next year as well.

New Positions

Several staff positions are looking to be added in this year’s budget. These positions are needed due to the growth experienced within the city and the increase in demand for city services.

For example, the Waxahachie Police Department has requested additional officers and two dispatchers.

“It has been several years since we have added any positions to the police department. If you just look around the city with all of the growth, additional businesses and additional traffic, it all equals to additional calls for service for us,” Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby said. “It is important to get these extra positions to keep providing the level of service that we provide for the citizens.”

Goolsby added the two new dispatchers would help the department keep a minimum staffing of three at any given time.

The city is also looking to add an assistant to the city manager’s office, administrative support employee for economic development and an assistant director of utilities.

Stevens said these positions would help ease the workload in these departments, while also allow for employees to grow with the city and step in if a department head retires and run operations.

Other positions include a building maintenance specialist whose responsibility will be handle maintenance on city buildings, a water plant operator, a senior utility worker, a utility worker for the wastewater treatment plant and maintenance workers for the parks department.

The proposed cost for the new positions total about $1.01 million

In a memo from Stevens found in the city council packet, he stated a salary increase is being looked at pending the completion of a compensation study. The proposed recommendation is a three-percent increase across the board for all employees.

Capital Projects

The city council, in conjunction with city staff, will take a look at several capital projects to complete over the next year. The first project is the second phase of the Lee Penn Park renovations, as renovations on phase one started in April.

The cost for phase two is $450,000. Some of the upgrades in the second phase would improve the existing football field and additional lighting.

Funds are also being budgeted to make improvements at the Chautauqua Auditorium, which has been part of the city since it opened its doors in 1902.

According to documents in the council packet, the auditorium would have a sprinkler system installed, which would be funded through the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone board. Additional work would include repairs to the retaining wall.

These improvements total $300,000.

Erosion control improvements off of Rock Spring Branch off of Hill Street are another of the projects being considered by the council.

“Rock Springs Branch runs behind Samaria Baptist Church. We did some work back there but it has been about 15 years ago. We cleaned it out and installed some gating to control the erosion,” Stevens explained. “Unfortunately once you get past that there is another area that is eroding pretty badly. So we are looking to fix that.”

Stevens added that the city is also looking to put in some new culverts on Lakewood Drive. Lakewood Drive residents told the council at previous meetings about the flooding problems they have experienced after rains in their neighborhood.

These improvements total $156,000

Another of the improvements being considered is approximately $75,000 in roof repairs at the Waxahachie Senior Activity Center.

Vehicle and Equipment Purchases

Roughly $1.4 million in proposed vehicle and equipment purchases is another of the proposed budgetary items being mulled.

Some of these purchases include two vehicles for the police department, a new fire engine, a dump truck and a track loader for the street and water departments, a tractor for the sports complex and mowers for the parks department. The proposed vehicle and equipment purchase total about $1.4 million.

The city council will have another workshop session on the budget in August, but the date for that meeting has not been set at this time.