Lakeway looks for alternatives to higher tax rate in proposed budget

Lakeway City Hall (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lakeway City Hall (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)

Lakeway City Hall (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)

Lakeway City Council scoured the proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget at a special meeting Sept. 8, looking for cost savings to avoid a proposed maximum property tax rate that would increase revenue by 3.5%.

On Aug. 17, Lakeway City Council voted to approve a 3.5% proposed maximum property tax rate—which would increase the rate to $0.1694 per $100 of assessed value—to help close the shortfall in the preliminary $15.06 million budget that starts Oct. 1. The current rate of $0.1645 has been in place since FY 2018-19.

Under the proposed new rate of $0.1694, the city tax bill for the owner of a $500,000 home would increase from $822.50 to $847 per year.

At the Sept. 8 meeting, council directed City Manager Julie Oakley to reduce or reallocate two expenditures to help close the gap in the preliminary budget:

  • cut the committee contingency fund by $20,000 to $35,700

  • use the anticipated $135,000 revenue surplus in the current budget to help balance the budget instead of placing in the reserve fund

With those two changes, Mayor Sandy Cox calculated the proposed budget could be balanced with a tax rate of $0.1653 instead of $0.1694.

No pay increases are currently in the proposed budget, which is expected to save $180,000. Cox petitioned to reinstate staff pay raises, citing how other regional municipalities have raises in their proposed budgets. Cox also worried about “losing good people” to other local governments by not offering raises.

Council Member Steve Smith said the city needs to “hold off on raises for now and wait until we have the cash.” Council could consider a budget amendment for raises later in the fiscal year if revenue rebounds, he said.

“Customers are our voters, not our staff,” Smith said. “We have to take care of them as well.”

Although three full-time and two part-time vacant positions have been frozen, the proposed budget contains four new positions: a grant coordinator; a planner; a fleet management coordinator; and an emergency management coordinator, which would be a regional position funded by an interlocal agreement with The Hills and Bee Cave.

Council will hold public hearings on the proposed budget and proposed tax rate at 6:30 p.m. Sept. 21, with votes on the budget and tax rate scheduled for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 28.
By Brian Perdue
Brian Perdue is the editor of the Lake Travis-Westlake and Northwest Austin editions of Community Impact Newspaper. A native of Virginia's Appalachian Mountains, he has been a journalist since 1992, living and working in Virginia, Washington D.C., Hawaii's Big Island, Southern California and Florida before moving to Austin in 2019.


Austin ISD and other districts in Central Texas are waiting for further TEA guidance on mask requirements. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin ISD, other Central Texas school districts await TEA guidance on updated mask mandates

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 2 that mask mandates and business capacity restrictions will be lifted in Texas.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced March 2 that mask mandates and business capacity restrictions will be lifted in Texas. (Courtesy Office of the Texas Governor)
Gov. Greg Abbott lifts statewide mask mandate, business restrictions in Texas

With vaccine distribution increasing, Gov. Greg Abbott said "people and businesses don't need the state telling them how to operate." Some local officials are pushing back, saying the relaxed restrictions are coming too early.

Homes are expected to continue to sell at record rates in the Lake Travis-Westlake region and the five-county metropolitan statistical area. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Housing inventory in Lake Travis-Westlake region continues to fall

Despite the arrival of new developments, the demand for housing in the Lake Travis-Westlake region and Greater Austin area is at an all-time high, according to the Austin Board of Realtors' January 2021 Central Texas housing report.

A disaster declaration issued by the city is in place to ease damage claims made by area residents, according to Mayor Sandy Cox. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Lakeway City Council extends disaster declaration for Texas winter storm

The disaster declaration eases insurance claims filed to cover storm damage.

Photo of a woman receiving a vaccine
Travis County vaccine providers receive 46,540 doses week of March 1

Seton Medical Center in Austin received the largest allocation this week, with over 14,000 doses.

Beaux Medspa opened in West Lake Hills in February. (Courtesy Beaux Medspa)
Beaux Medspa opens on Bee Caves Road and more business news from the Lake Travis-Westlake region

Here is the most recent business news from the Lake Travis-Westlake area.

Reports surfaced Feb. 22 of dogs falling ill after swimming in Lake Travis. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff)
Blue-green algae toxic to animals found in Hudson Bend area of Lake Travis

Solid organic material was taken for testing from the edge of Travis Landing located on the east side of Hudson Bend. Those samples indicated the presence of algae and decaying algae containing cyanotoxin, which is fatal to dogs and other animals.

A new Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine could help expand vaccination availability in Travis County, according to local health officials. (Courtesy Pexels)
Johnson & Johnson vaccine could mean additional supply, easier distribution rollout in Travis County

If approved, the Johnson & Johnson vaccine will be a valuable weapon against the ongoing pandemic, according to local health officials.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

A tree's branches fell on a car in North Austin in the midst of Winter Storm Uri in February. With downed tree limbs and burst water lines causing property damage across Austin, the city has directed additional funds into programs to help some homeowners with emergency home repairs. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Still in crisis mode, Austin City Council initiates recovery following winter storm

With 200 to 400 apartment and condo complexes in Austin still without water, City Council is aiming to direct aid and relieve some of the financial burden felt by residents following the devastating winter storms.

Pet owners are advised to keep their dogs out of Lake Travis. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
UPDATE: Lake Travis water samples show no signs of toxic algae; dog owners still urged to keep pets out of water

An initial test of water samples from Lake Travis showed no signs of cyanotoxin or blue-green algae, a bacteria that is poisonous when consumed by dogs.