City Council voted unanimously Sept. 19 to adopt the FY 2019-20 budget and to adopt a tax rate of $0.541867 per $100 of taxable value, which is $0.01 lower than the previous rate. FY 2019 is Oct. 1, 2019-Sept. 30 2020.
The adopted rate in Leander is lower than the effective rate, which is the tax rate that would generate the same amount of tax revenue as was generated the previous year. With Senate Bill 2 going into effect next year—which requires many taxing units in Texas to hold an election if they want to raise 3.5% more property tax revenue than they did the year before—some cities are responding by increasing their tax rates.
Leander Mayor Troy Hill said he thinks Leander is making the right decision not increasing the rate.
“[Senate Bill 2] limits cities’ abilities to respond if the economy goes south,” Hill said. “I don’t think that gives cities the right to raise taxes this year when the economy is doing so well.”
Though this is the seventh year in a row the city has lowered its tax rate, residents will likely still pay more property tax to the city because home values have increased in Williamson and Travis counties.
The $168.89 million budget is a decrease from the previous year’s budget of about $179 million. The decrease is primarily due to changes in several capital projects, according to city spokesperson Mike Neu. For example, Bagdad Road North improvements, which were part of the previous budget, are now complete, and Lakewood Park is near complete, so it has smaller estimated costs associated with it in the upcoming budget.
Highlights of the budget include funding for a comprehensive plan update, the senior center, roadway rehabilitation, and the Raider Way and East Woodview Drive widening and improvement project. The budget also includes funding for 24 new positions in departments such as police, engineering, public works and planning.
Impact on residents
Leander’s tax base increased 15.8% from the last fiscal year. More than half of that increase was due to growth in new property, according to city documents.
Home values also increased in Williamson and Travis counties. With the approved tax rate, the average Leander homeowner in Williamson County can expect to pay about $60 more to the city in property taxes in the upcoming fiscal year than the previous year, and the average Leander homeowner in Travis County can expect to pay $64 more, according to city documents.
The budget also includes a reduction in the water reserve charge per living unit equivalent—the unit of measure that represents the quantity of water used and wastewater generated by a single-family detached residence—from $4 to $3. This is the second year in a row this rate has been reduced.