‘We have the ability to weather the storm': West Lake Hills mayor assesses financial impact of COVID-19

West Lake Hills City Council met virtually May 13 to discuss a potential budget amendment. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
West Lake Hills City Council met virtually May 13 to discuss a potential budget amendment. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

West Lake Hills City Council met virtually May 13 to discuss a potential budget amendment. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)

Despite the significant hit on sales tax revenue, West Lake Hills is in relatively good financial shape amid the coronavirus pandemic, according to Mayor Linda Anthony.

City Council members met virtually May 13 to evaluate a proposed budget amendment for fiscal year 2019-20. The city is facing a net change of $401,278 on the general fund balance, in part due to a decrease of $300,000 in estimated sales tax.

City Administrator Travis Askey noted that sales tax data released in June will better reflect the impact of COVID-19.

“Our approach is to be as cautious as we can and as conservative with our revenue estimate,” Askey said.

When drafting the 2019-20 budget, West Lake Hills officials were also anticipating receiving funds from the sale of a city-owned plot of land at 110 Westlake Drive. The sale totaling $1,563,803 cannot close until all site plans have been approved, according to Anthony, who said this will not take place in the current fiscal year.



In total, West Lake Hills reported a $1,922,103 decrease in general fund revenue. However, due to decreases in administration and public works expenses, the overall hit will not be as large.


The proposed amendment reflects a $221,000 reduction in administrative expenses as well as a $1,299,825 reduction in public works expenses.


“We have the ability to weather the storm,” Anthony said. “That’s not to minimize the fact that the sales tax hit is substantial, and we don’t know when that might level off.”

Anthony attributed this to the city’s five-year plans and historically prudent and cautious spending. Council may decide to trim expenses in FY 2020-21 by potentially postponing public works projects.

“In fact, the only project that I think we should proceed with is the project that we’re doing in conjunction with Water District 10 for Wildcat Hollow and Harbor View,” Anthony said.

Progress on the project, which is centered on a water line construction, is already underway, and the city was able to reduce expenses by involving Water District 10.

At this time, the proposed amendment to the FY 2019-20 budget has not been finalized. Action will be requested at the May 27 council meeting.
By Amy Rae Dadamo
Amy Rae Dadamo is the reporter for Lake Travis-Westlake, where her work focuses on city government and education. Originally from New Jersey, Amy Rae relocated to Austin after graduating from Ramapo College of New Jersey in May 2019.