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.


MOST RECENT

The Austin School of Fashion Design, or ASFD, relocated from North Austin to Georgetown in October. (Courtesy The Austin School of Fashion Design)
Austin School of Fashion Design moves to Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Austin area.

Ahead of Election Day, Nov. 3, four Austin City Council members have asked Austin Police Chief Brian Manley for more information on the police department's plans to respond to possible protests. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Council members ask police to detail response to possible Election Day protests

The four council members said protests from the spring represented "a failure to keep people safe" and asked Chief Brian Manley for more information to how police would respond to potential protests around Nov. 3.

After a significant drop soon after the onset of COVID-19, home sales nationally have risen in the past few months. Austin has followed the same trend, but in a more pronounced manner. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin's economy is crawling slowly back to recovery. So why is the housing market booming?

Low interest rates, constricted supply and continued population growth have accelerated the sellers' market in Central Texas, leaving 26% fewer homes on the market this September than there were at the same time last year.

Local violinist Shawn LeSure
HAAM gets funding boost from Central Health to enroll musicians of color in health coverage

Days ahead of open enrollment beginning in the health care marketplace, Travis County’s health care district and the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians struck a deal to secure increased health care coverage for the city’s musicians of color.

Less than a week ahead of the Nov. 3 Election Day, Cihan Varol, an associate professor with Sam Houston State University's Cyber Forensics Intelligence Center, shared insight on foreign election hacking and what it means for voters. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Q&A: Sam Houston State University cyber forensics intelligence expert talks foreign election hacking ahead of Nov. 3

"There is a very slim chance that the hackers can change vote count, but they can definitely influence people to believe that they did manipulate it," Cihan Varol said. "If election fraud is going to happen, it'll be because of disinformation."

Council reviewed renderings for a potential condominiums slated for 1801 Westlake Drive. (Rendering courtesy city of West Lake Hills)
Condos could replace apartment complex at 1801 Westlake Drive

Owners of the Boca Chica Apartments at 1801 Westlake Drive in West Lake Hills are proposing to demolish the existing complex to construct two condominium buildings in its place.

Face coverings are not required for those entering polling places in Texas during the general election. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
UPDATED: U.S. appeals court pauses decision voiding face covering exemption at polling places

The court temporarily stayed a district judge's decision to void an exemption to Gov. Greg Abbott's statewide face covering order concerning polling places.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir speaks to reporters Oct. 28 at the Millennium Youth Entertainment Complex in East Austin. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Travis County breaking voting records; clerk expects turnout to climb as high as 80%

More than 480,000 ballots have been cast in Travis County, surpassing the total from the 2016 presidential election.

Frustration and misunderstanding dominated the public comment period of Bee Cave City Council’s Oct. 27 remote meeting—when 13 citizens commented regarding a new residential development along Hamilton Pool Road and the public utility agency that will service it. (Community Impact Newspaper Staff Photo)
Hamilton Pool Road residents frustrated over development, lack of representation

Frustration and misunderstanding dominated the public comment period of Bee Cave City Council’s Oct. 27 remote meeting—when 13 citizens commented regarding a new residential development along Hamilton Pool Road and the public utility agency that will service it.

The city of Lakeway was recognized as a Scenic City in October. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lakeway earns Scenic City certification

The city of Lakeway was recognized as Platinum Scenic City this month, which is the highest level awarded within the 2020 Scenic City Certification program.

After going into executive session to discuss the matter, Bee Cave City Council voted at its Oct. 27 meeting to purchase a 2.78-acre lot and fund the purchase with the sale of tax notes. (Brian Perdue/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bee Cave to purchase parcel connecting Central Park to SH 71

After going into executive session to discuss the matter, Bee Cave City Council voted at its Oct. 27 meeting to purchase a 2.78-acre lot and fund the purchase with the sale of tax notes.

Photo of boarded-up Sixth Street bars
With COVID-19 projections 'bleak' through Thanksgiving, Travis County keeps bars closed

Statistical models from the University of Texas show a 92% chance the pandemic is worsening, but the increase in cases and hospitalizations have leveled off in the last few days.