WAXAHACHIE

The Waxahachie City Council approved its budget and tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year at a specially called meeting on Thursday. The city’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

City leaders are adding additional personnel, replacing equipment, and making improvements to existing facilities.

Revenue and transfers into the general fund for the fiscal year are estimated at $41.3 million. Expenditures are projected at $40.4 million. The property tax rate remains the same at $0.68 per $100 valuation, which has remained the same since 2011.

City Manager Michael Scott stated that he feels the community has a bright year ahead of it.

“It is a budget, as far as the general fund goes, that has a little bit of everything. There is going to be additions to staffing to address growth, capital projects addressing dilapidated streets, and amenities in the way of park improvements,” Scott said. “It all does this without raising the tax rate. I think that it is a pretty solid budget and we are excited about the good things that are in there.”

Scott stated adding additional staff members in central locations will help better serve residents. One area he pointed to was Parks and Recreation, where a single director, John Smith, currently oversees 17 parks. The new budget adds an assistant director to the department to help with the workflow.

In addition to the budget, the council approved the awarding of the bid of the downtown amphitheater project to FBM Construction, which came in at $3,551,855.14. Council also approved a change order for the project totaling $19,627.66.

The amphitheater will be located on South College Street across from the MKT train depot. The area will include a stage, a park, pavilion area, playground, and an area for food trucks to park. Groundbreaking on the project is set for Oct. 2.

Council member Melissa Olson voiced her objection to the tax rate, the budget, and the amphitheater project. She also voted in opposition to all three.

In budget talks, Olson advocated for a one-cent tax cut to aid residents. Council members did not support Olson’s view.

“The budget passing with a tax rate of $0.68 per $100 valuation was not in the best interest of the citizens of Waxahachie. I could not agree with it,” Olson said. “I proposed the penny initially, not because I wanted to look good or other things I have been accused of, but because it was something that I knew we could do to help our residents and it would not negatively impact the city.”

Olson stated this cut wouldn’t have impacted emergency services and felt other ways could have been looked at to fund projects.

Also during the meeting, Planning and Zoning member Jim Phillips stated the funding for the amphitheater comes from two sources. The two sources are the Waxahachie Community Development Corporation, who is funding $2.3 million, and the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone, which will fund $1 million. The WCDC identifies and funds the civic center and the sports complex to maintain and enhance the quality of life in the city. The TIRZ funds improvements in the downtown area.

“This project does not affect the general budget and is not funded by property taxes out of the general fund,” Phillips said.

Council member Mary Lou Shipley was absent from Thursday's meeting.