The Leander City Council has been presented with a proposed budget that will lower the city's property tax rate, but homeowners in Leander are expected to pay $73 more per year because of rising property tax values in the city.
The proposed $127.8 million budget, which will be debated before the council this month and voted on in September, reduces the property tax rate by 2.1 cents to 57.8 cents per one hundred dollars. It will also add 21 jobs, provide for employee pay increases, build ball fields and renovate an old fire station so it can be used for additional city offices.
“This budget addresses our major goals of continued tax rate reduction, implementing the 2016 bond program, maintaining a competitive compensation program and addressing the service needs of one of the fastest growing cities in the nation,” said City Manager Kent Cagle.
Cagle said the budget will continue current work on park and road improvements funded by 2016 voter approved bonds. Despite the property tax decrease, because of increases in property values, Leander property owners are expected to see an increase of $73.91 in their property taxes.
"Obviously, the tremendous growth of the past several years has brought not only increased revenues, but also increased demands for services," said Cagle. "Consequently, each year the General Fund budget has increased to meet these demands."
Leander, which grew 12.5 percent from 2015 to 2016, is expected to get more than $2.6 million in increased tax revenue from new property this year. "Our conservative budgeting philosophy has resulted in the ability to maintain a fund balance that is above our 25 percent or 90 days operating reserve," Cagle said.
The city manager said by 2020, Leander will likely be the fastest growing city in the nation among cities of other 50,000 population.
"This budget continues our commitment to maintaining existing infrastructure, though our attention is keenly focused on managing growth " Cagle said.
Highlights in the proposed budget include:
A four percent raise for employees costing $271,357 and a five percent raise for police and firefighters costing $256,149.
Twenty one new jobs, including 18 new positions paid from city revenues and three new utility positions which will be paid with revenue from the utility fund.
$14.3 million in voter-approved bond projects to be used build Mason Creek Trail, and provide landscaping, design and construction for other projects in the city.
$1.5 million to put new power lines, new lighting and streetscaping on Brushy Street and $500,000 for railroad quiet zones to be installed by Capital Metro at Metro Drive and San Gabriel Parkway.
The budget also includes $400,000 to build two T-ball fields at Benbrook Ranch and $2.2 million to remodel Fire Station #1 to be used for development offices.