Hutto City Council is considering a proposed budget of $51.1 million for fiscal year 2021-22 with an increase in tax revenues, despite planning for a slightly lower tax rate.

The city's proposed budget summary states this is 19.8% higher than the previous year's budget, which amounts to an additional $2.39 million in property taxes. Of that amount, $1.15 million is generated from new property added in the past year.

The fiscal year will begin Oct. 1. At the Aug. 5 meeting, a presentation showed operating expenses would be $36.99 million with $2.21 million planned for capital projects and $11.9 million planned for debt service. The total tax rate proposed for FY 2021-22 is $0.543177 with $0.387072 for the maintenance and operations rate and $0.156105 for the debt service rate. This overall tax rate is a slight reduction on paper from the FY 2020-21 rate of $0.60, but increases in local property values will still generate an increase in tax revenue, according to city officials.

The city is proposing a voter-approval rate, which is the maximum rate allowed by law without voter approval. Council called a public hearing for both its tax rate and proposed budget for Sept. 2 at 7 p.m. in the Hutto City Hall Council chambers. This hearing is required in accordance with state law, Chief Financial Officer Angie Rios said.

Revenues in the city's general fund for FY 2021-22 would come in at $21.9 million, while $21.8 million in expenses is budgeted. The general fund covers most services, including police, repairs and maintenance to city-owned property and the Hutto Public Library.

In the city's utility fund, proposed operational revenues are at $13.6 million with operation expenses totaling $7.4 million and $6.2 million coming from the debt service fund. The debt service fund is expected to have projected revenues of $4.14 million with no net change to the fund balance.

"What I want to sort of make sure we understand today within this budget is that this is a fiscally conservative, balanced budget, it actually adds to the fund balance," City Manager Warren Hutmacher said during the presentation. "If you take the projections that we have for this current fiscal year plus the additions within the FY [2021-]22 budget, we're going to be over 25% of the fund balance of our operating expenses. So that puts us in a pretty good position."

Hutmacher said the proposed budget was limited in part due to ongoing studies by the city, including a compensation study, a utility rate study, a city comprehensive plan that would guide growth, a bond accounting project and pavement analysis that will all impact the budget in some way, although these particular impacts remain unclear.

Council members and Mayor Mike Snyder all had questions about the budget, including about how the previous year's budget will end.

"Actually, the budget last year was supposed to be very conservative," Snyder said. "Then we found out we had a bunch of negative budgets. Where we thought we were going to have several million to do things with, we actually found out it was all for accounts that had negative balances."

Snyder said he would like to see the proposed budget produce a reserve of 18% to 20%.

The proposed budget is available for public view in the packet for the Aug. 5 meeting of the Hutto City Council, located on the city's website.