Westlake residents will have the same tax rate for the fourth consecutive year as Town Council unanimously approved the fiscal year 2023-24 tax rate and budget at the Sept. 25 meeting.

The budget was approved pending receipt of the financial policies to be redlined and the list of contractors, which council members received, said Erin Spicer, communications manager for the town of Westlake.

The details

An expenditure budget of $23.4 million was approved. The town budget showed revenues of $28.2 million, and $4.8 million will be contributed to the fund balance. The property tax rate is $0.16788 per $100 valuation. Broken down, the maintenance and operations portion of the tax rate is $0.09117, and the interest and sinking component is $0.07671. The tax rate is effectively a 7.59% increase. The proposed tax levy is $4.1 million, which is more revenue than the previous year, and House Bill 3105 requires a separate vote acknowledging the increase in revenues, which council approved. Broken down, the tax levy has $2.2 million for maintenance and operations and $1.8 million for interest and sinking.

The tax rate and budget went into effect Oct. 1.

Council’s approved budget included some cuts to the personnel budget—six full-time employees—to acquire the same tax rate from the previous year, said Director of Finance Cayce Lay Lamas, who discussed the budget with council.

Personnel costs for the town make up $5.6 million of the budget, while the town also contributes $5 million to Westlake Academy, the second-highest expenditure. The town also contracts with businesses to perform certain services if the town does not have someone in town to conduct the work. The town has nearly 50 full-time employees.

Zooming in

Westlake’s net taxable value is $2.4 billion, which is an increase of $398.9 million, or 19.25%, from last year, according to town figures. New construction in the town is valued at $102 million with the average home taxable value set at $2.1 million, an increase of $217,257, or 11.02%. The market value is $3.1 million, a 21.8% increase.

What they're saying

Mayor Pro Tem David Quint aired several concerns about the budget, including the amount spent on salaries and how, generally, council should have more control and oversight on how money is spent in the town.

“My concern is that if I approve this budget as it stands, I don't feel that I have full control over where the money is going,” Quint said.

Council member Tim Shiner also voiced concern to town staff about the budget and the budget process, asking the staff “be true to the taxpayers of the town of Westlake and remember who pays you.”

He specifically told Lamas and Town Manager Wade Carroll that they should do their job and take care of the taxpayers.

Council Member Anna White differed in her take: She said the budget was “not perfect, and there’s room for improvement,” but she said it was “so much better” than the last two budgets, and she expects it to improve in the future.