The city-proposed tax rate approved Aug. 26 for its first reading by the Round Rock City Council for fiscal year 2021-22 is $0.397 per $100 of valuation, $0.01 higher than the no-new-revenue rate.

This was the first of the two required readings for ordinances adopting the proposed budget and tax rate. The second vote will be taken during the Sept. 9 regular meeting of the council. Another work session for the proposed budget is set to be held Sept. 7.

While the proposed tax rate of $0.397 is $0.042 less than the 2020-21 rate of $0.439, it is 2.5% higher than the no-new-revenue rate, $0.387441, the rate which would generate the same amount of revenue as the previous year when considering growth in property values, according to the city. Residential property taxes make up around 19% of the $133 million general fund's projected revenue, about $25 million.

Community Impact Newspaper previously reported this increase, according to city officials, will cover the city’s road expansion program.

Public hearings for both the tax rate and budget were held with two speakers addressing the budget, but there were none for the tax rate.

Round Rock Preservation President Shirley Marquardt spoke in favor of the proposed budget as well as a resolution that includes a one-time designation of $300,000 for preservation in addition to a portion of hotel occupancy taxes to "fill the historical preservation hole of Round Rock's Swiss cheese."

"Historic assets are disappearing from our community each month," Marquardt said. "As Round Rock leaders make decisions to develop Round Rock for the history and the future, city leaders must also make decisions on which significant historic buildings, sites and objects must be preserved to ensure cultural heredity from every area of the past, to make sure it's not erased, neither from neglect or through demolition."

Another member of the public asked for arts to be considered in the budget explicitly, noting he had not seen them in the proposed budget.

"I trust that the arts are not so unimportant that we don't forget them, that we don't put them in the budget somewhere," Richard Parson said. "I am very concerned that not once did I see the arts mentioned."

Addressing his comments, Chief Financial Officer Susan Morgan said around $400,000 of the budget is allocated to the arts.

The total taxable value in Round Rock increased from $15.36 billion in 2020 to $17.67 billion, according to certified tax rolls from the Williamson Central Appraisal District, Morgan said in a presentation regarding the budget. Included in that increase is $381 million in new taxable value year over year, Morgan said.

Property taxes generated in the city will help fund a $525.4 million proposed budget with single-family homeowners making up 19% of the $133.3 million general fund.

City information states the proposed budget includes an 8% increase in the police budget, bringing it to $37 million; $132.7 million for transportation improvements; and $7.3 million for the parks and recreation extension of the Brushy Creek Regional Trail system.

The proposed budget includes 52 new personnel, which Morgan said are needed to keep up with the city's projected 2.5% growth in population by the end of this year.