West Lake Hills employees can expect a 6.5% salary boost next month after City Council adopted an increased tax rate for fiscal year 2023-24 Sept. 13.

Council passed a property tax rate of $0.1786 per $100 valuation, an increase from the previous budget's rate of $0.1504 per $100 valuation. The new rate will increase the average home’s taxes by $11.70 per year, according to city documents.

Council approved a general fund of $6.7 million with $2.8 million going toward the police department.

The details

Mayor Linda Anthony said the tax increase will help improve retention and attract new hires at the city’s police department, as the agency is “competing against every other city and the private sector.”

In addition to the pay bump, council approved a $250 monthly vehicle stipend for employees and a $150 stipend for police officers with certain certifications.

The police department will also begin offering a $4,500 signing bonus for new hires and increase the starting salary for lateral transfers from other agencies.

“Staffing levels for police departments, not just in the Central Texas area, but nationwide, is a problem with almost every agency, including ours,” said Scott Gerdes, West Lake Hills police chief. “We’re very grateful for the council's action, and hopefully this will allow us to be able to attract more well-qualified candidates to this department. And we're looking forward to seeing if we can make that happen.”

Zooming out

Anthony said the tax increase will also position the city to better prepare for any unforeseen setbacks in the coming year.

“If nothing else, the last few years have shown us we just don’t know what’s coming [next],” Anthony said. “COVID[-19], two massive storms, now a drought—you just can’t anticipate what’s [going to] happen, and I want the city to have the agility and financial resources to prepare for that.”