The Waxahachie City Council held a budget workshop earlier this week in preparation for the upcoming municipal budget.

Under the proposed budget as outlined during the workshop, residents will see no change in the tax rate for the fiscal year starting Oct. 1 for the city of Waxahachie.

The tax rate is recommended to stay at $0.68 per $100 valuation of property.

“Although existing values did drop, it is an encouraging sign that the city had nearly $45 million in new property added to the tax rolls. This was by far the largest increase of any city in Ellis County, which was the same case last year,” city manager Paul Stevens said.

Stevens said the fund balance for the general fund is estimated to be $7,230,811, which translates to 116 days of operating expenditures. One day of operating cost for the city is $59,633.

Revenues are budgeted to increase by 10 percent over the 2010-2011 fiscal year budget to $23,759,046. Sales tax revenue is projected to increase by 3 percent of the end of the year estimate of $7,930,000.

In the proposed budget, all employees receive a 3-percent increase in salaries but will have an increase in their health insurance deductible from $750 to $1,000 and a 7-percent increase in their dental premium. 

The police department will use $216,000 to purchase five patrol vehicles and $30,000 will be used for the purchase of hand held ticket writers. Funds for the ticket writers will be paid out of the court technology fund, as recommended by municipal judge Joe Gallo. When an officer writes a ticket, the equipment automatically downloads the information to the municipal court.

The municipal court budget will increase by $6,000 to add the position of an associate judge.

“When Joe Gallo was appointed municipal court judge, he recommended that the city wait before appointing an associate judge. Judge Gallo believes it is now the time to do so,” Stevens said. “The associate judge would handle weekend arraignment and would fill in at other times when needed.”

The fire department’s budget includes a booster truck in the amount of $100,000 that will be housed at the new station located off of Wyatt Street and under construction at this time.

The purchase of new finance software for $198,000 is included in the budget, with the cost to be split between the general and utility funds.

The street maintenance budget will increase to $1,489,203, with part of the money carried over from the current fiscal year since the council decided not to do a street program in 2010-2011 but to combine the funding to do more projects in 2011-2012.

A new bucket truck will be purchased for $100,000 along with a street sweeper for $230,000. A seasonal position will be added back at a cost of $7,500 to mow right of ways in the city.

The city’s economic development strategic plan will be completed in November and $50,000 has been set aside to assist in its implementation. An additional $100,000 has been budgeted for a highway monument and beautification project at Interstate 35E and the U.S. Highway 287 Bypass. Another $250,000 has been set aside for economic development purposes.

Residents will see an 8.5-percent increase in their water rates with no increase in wastewater rates. The city will purchase a new sewer vacuum truck for $290,000 and a backhoe for $87,000 that will be paid for out of the wastewater fund budget.

The council will use the remaining Texas Department of Transportation funds left over from the runway expansion at Mid-Way Regional Airport plus $75,000 to pay for the renovation of the terminal building.

“Although we are able to accomplish these items during the upcoming fiscal year, we have held other expenditures very low. With that being said, we will face many other needs in the near future. We will need to begin the replacement of vehicles and other equipment throughout all city departments,” Stevens said.

“We are also on the cusp of needing to add more police officers as well as more staff in the finance department,” he said. “Reinstating seasonal employees for the parks and recreation department and public works department would also help with keeping up with the demands of the work in those departments. There are additional personnel needs in other department as well.”

Stevens expressed his appreciation to the city staff for their work and help on the upcoming budget.

The council will adopt the budget in September following a public hearing.

Contact Andrew at andrew.branca@wninews.com or 469-517-1451.