A workshop on July 21 served as a chance for City Council members to weigh options and provide direction so staff can come back in August with a proposed budget reflecting the feedback, a news release said. The preliminary budget also incorporates feedback received from residents through an online survey conducted in June. Of the more than 650 residents who took the survey, the majority:
- would not support changes to property taxes or user fees;
- rated the value of city services and the city’s efforts to address the impacts of growth as “good;” and
- would support increased funding to manage traffic and infrastructure/roads.
The overall focus of the fiscal year 2020-21 budget is to preserve and maintain city services in response both to growth and uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic, City Manager David Morgan said. It includes funding for 14.5 new positions, including staff for Fire Station No. 7; additional training for police; and initiating design for improvements to D.B. Wood Road, the last, large project from the 2015 bond. The budget proposal also includes cuts to base budgets in training, travel, and supplies as well as freezing six positions in the general fund for at least a partial year.
The preliminary budget does not include increases to the property tax rate, but it does reflect staff recommendations to increase sanitation rates to help pay for increased costs with Texas Disposal Systems, the reconstruction of the transfer station and improvements to the household hazardous waste program, the release said.
Additionally, the city is working with a contractor to study the costs to provide water service and may recommend rate increases as a result. Due to projected revenue losses as a result of COVID-19, the preliminary budget does not include merit raises for city employees—a first in five years—and likely will result in fewer parks and recreation programming. The general fund budget does include a preliminary estimate of $82,000 toward market increases that will affect about 240 city employees across all funds and an additional $656,000 for step raises and market increases for police and fire staff.
“We won’t know the true effects COVID-19 will have on our local economy and, as a result, the city budget, for several months,” Morgan said. “We do expect the uncertainty to last into the next fiscal year, and are budgeting conservatively, with that in mind.”
The following is a detailed breakdown of Georgetown’s general fund revenue. The general fund is the primary operating fund for the city.
- June 10-June 26: Budget engagement
- July 21: City Council budget workshop
- Aug. 11: First presentation of the full budget; City Council sets maximum tax rate and public hearing dates
- Sept. 8: Public hearings and first reading of both the tax rate and the budget
- To be determined: Second reading and final adoption of the tax rate and budget