The Waxahachie City Council voted Monday to approve the proposed property tax rate, $0.68 cents per $100, along with a city budget that is set to improve police radio equipment, city sidewalks and fund other capital improvement projects.

“We’ve had to come in and ... revamp just about everything we’ve got to keep up with the growth that we’ve got,” said councilmember Kevin Strength, “I feel like we have raised the bar.”

The budget passed by a vote of 4-1. Councilmember Melissa Olson voted in opposition.

“I just have one question,” Olson said as the item came up for discussion late in Monday’s agenda. “If we approve this, we pretty much have to approve the tax rate — because the budget is based on that tax rate?”

“The companion tax rate provides the taxes that are not all of this budget but a substantial amount of it,” responded Charles Harris, director of finance for the city.

According to budget documentation found on the city website, property tax revenues will raise 11.32 percent more funds, or $2,253,304, for the 2019-20 budget compared to last year.

The largest expenditures in the new budget are earmarked for police and fire services, $11,177,055 and $8,838,750, respectively. Emergency management funding also saw a steep increase in funding — from just $31,196 in the revised 2018-19 budget to $211,184 for 2019-20. City manager Michael Scott said this was in line with the council’s priorities regarding public safety.

“Not only are we adding police and fire personnel that are necessary, we’re updating our dispatch system, updating our radio system,” Scott began. “These are things that make a community safe. ... I think people lose sight of the fact that the budget doesn’t just fund parks and sidewalks, it funds the things that we take for granted each day.”

Mayor David Hill explained that the city is looking at spending somewhere between $50 and $60 million on capital improvements over the next five years for water, wastewater and street development.

“This budget right here starts a program that we haven’t had in the city to build sidewalks,” Hill said. “If you walk out of Bellevue to go to Marvin Elementary School, you have to walk ... in Brown Street because there are no sidewalks — and that’s our kids.”

Hill praised the council’s work on getting a low bid for the project, saving the city “quite a bit.” He listed Brown Street, Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard and East Marvin Avenue as areas in need of sidewalks and improvements, as well as the “heaving” sidewalk on Main Street.

“We have infrastructure in the ground that is 100 years old,” Hill said. “We have antiquated equipment out there that is falling apart, and we have to replace it. … We’ve had a failing infrastructure for years. We’re finally able to take care of that — and that’s what we’re doing.”

“I think some of the things that need to be done in the city are being done every year, but I think this year is special to me,” Strength added. “I want to celebrate this budget instead of feel bad about not lowering the tax rate. I think if you were sitting in my seat you would feel the same way.”