Hutto releases updated $78.9M budget proposal for 2019-20 fiscal year

The city of Hutto has taken the next step in setting its 2019-20 budget, releasing a new budget proposal Aug. 8 ahead of its Aug. 15 City Council meeting.

The new budget proposal, delivered by City Manager Odis Jones, is listed at approximately $78.9 million. The revised budget is based on the updated maximum property tax rate proposal, listed at $0.631 per $100 of taxable value, set by City Council Aug. 1. The Council revised its proposed maximum property tax rate following public concerns regarding the city's initial proposal of $.0676 per $100 of taxable value.

The proposed price tag includes nearly $32.9 million in operating expenses, $38.4 million in operating revenues, $11.5 million in debt services and approximately $46 million for new capital projects, according to city documents. Of the new capital projects proposed, nearly $40 million are paid for by bond proceeds, per the document.

City documents cite the combination of operating expenses paired with the associated debt service payments and cash-funded capital projects will exceed the city's revenues in its current fiscal year, decreasing the overall fund balance. The documents add that despite decreasing the overall fund balance, the city will remain above its reserve requirements.

The proposed tax rate of $0.631 per $100 of taxable value is broken down into an operating and maintenance rate of $0.398 and a debt rate of $0.233, according to city documents. The proposed rate includes the debt service increase for projects approved in the November 2018 bond election.

The four main areas of the proposed budget include the city's general fund, utility fund, streets and drainage construction fund and capital projects.

The general fund is the city's largest and encompasses general services and operations such as police, development services, public works, parks and recreation and administrative services, among others. General fund revenues are expected to be $18.2 million, an increase from $15.3 million in fiscal year 2018-19. Expenses total $20.1 million, an increase from the previous fiscal year's $15.6 million adopted budget.

The utility fund, which includes the city's water and wastewater system, is expected to be funded by $11.5 million in revenues, following a utility rate study completed in 2017 and a 25% increase in FY 18-19. The budgeted operational expenses, under the current  proposal, total $6.6 million with an additional $7 million for debt service requirements.

The streets and drainage construction fund was created by the city during FY 18-19 as a means of providing streets and drainage construction services within the city, rather than contracting this service out. The budgeted expenses proposed amount to $4.1 million, an increase from the prior fiscal year's nearly $620,000 price tag due to one-time, large-scale equipment purchases.

Capital projects budgeted for FY 2019-20 under the current proposal include roughly $46.1 million of expenses, broken down into $40.6 million in tax-supported projects and $5.5 million in utility-supported projects.

Public hearings for the budget and proposed maximum tax rate will be held Aug. 15 and Aug. 22. If approved, the adopted budget will go into effect Oct. 1.