On Monday, July 19 the City of Brownwood released its proposed budget for fiscal year 2021/2022. The new fiscal year begins on October 1. The total budget is $36,088,926, an increase of 0.23% over the current year budget.
The budget includes a decrease in the ad valorem property tax rate, down 1.42%; an increase in water rates of 1.3%; and a projected increase in sales tax receipts of 9.3%. (Current year-to-date sales tax receipts are up 12.9%.)
In a letter accompanying the proposed budget, City Manager Emily Crawford stated “Our policy is to adopt a sound and fiscally conservative budget and to adhere to it closely during the budget year.”
The decrease in property tax rates to $0.7342 from $0.7448 would lower the city’s portion of property taxes to $929 from $943, on an average residential home valued at $126,628. However, total property valuations in the city have risen 4.41%, so even with the lower rates the City is expecting total property tax revenues of $6,131,972, an increase of $336,678.
The water sales rate will increase slightly to $2.41/ hundred cubic feet. This rate increase was necessitated by the increased cost of wholesale treated water from the Brown County Water Improvement District. There will be no increase in the base water rate. (All residential water customers pay a base rate of $28.23/month, then pay the hundred cubic feet rate for the water actually used.) The average customer will pay 30-cents per month more. With the projected volume of water sales, the total revenue from water sales will increase by 3.71% to $6,620,000.
There will be no increase in sewer and sanitation rates, or the landfill gate rate. However, water and sewer tap fees will go up by $100. A 3/4-inch water tap will cost $600; a 1-inch water tap will cost $700. A 4-inch sewer tap will cost $500; a 6-inch sewer tap will cost $600.
About 90% of the City’s revenues comes from the following:
Property Taxes — 16.99%
Franchise, PILOT, and other taxes — 9.79% (PILOT: Payment In Lieu of Taxes)
Sales Taxes — 17.17%
Water/Sewer/Sanitation — 45.89%
The other approximately 10% of revenues is from various miscellaneous fees and charges.
On the spending side of the budget, the four biggest categories are:
Police Department: $5,196,161 (up 4.04%)
Fire Department: $3,850,130 (up 2.31%)
Parks and Recreation Department: $1,957,161 (up 14.82%)
Street Department: $1,929,838 (down 1.30%)
The budget includes a 3% pay raise for non-civil service employees. The budget states: “The pay raise will be merit-based and will be distributed accordingly.”
Civil service employees (Police and Fire) will see pay increases of 0-3% in the Fire Department, and 3.5% in the Police Department. The budget states: “The pay adjustments are based upon getting Brownwood employees to the average pay of nine comparable cities.”
Through the Enterprise fleet management program, the City will replace eleven vehicles, at a cost of $95,000.
The Fire Department plans to buy a new front-line fire engine to replace a 21-year old engine. The ladder truck will be paid off in 2021, and the note payment for the new engine will be less than the ladder truck.
The budget allocates $150,000 to refurbish the swimming pool at Wiggins Park. Other minor improvements at Wiggins, Mayes, and Trigg Parks total $37,000.
The City Council will hold a public hearing on the proposed budget on August 24. A complete copy of the budget is available at the Brownwood Public Library, and on the City’s website: www.brownwoodtexas.gov.