The city of Plano has committed not to raise its property tax rate as it deals with an uncertain financial future and declining revenues from sales taxes and a number of other sources.

Plano City Council directed the city staff Aug. 10 to move forward with a fiscal year 2020-21 tax rate no higher than $0.4482 per $100 of assessed value, unchanged from the previous year. While the city could still adopt a lower rate, it would not be able to adopt a higher one without restarting the legal process that governs municipal property tax rates.

Despite the clarity emerging on the tax rate, the city still faces a great deal of uncertainty as it moves forward on its budget approval process, according to Budget Director Karen Rhodes-Whitley. Even the amount of property taxes that would be collected are up in the air, she said, as the Collin and Denton appraisal districts continue to process protests from homeowners on a delayed schedule because of the coronavirus pandemic.

Further complicating the process, the city has been grappling with the exact definition of the "no new revenue" rate under state law that went into effect this year, Rhodes-Whitley told council members. The delayed protest process leaves unclear whether the city is allowed to count properties that are going through the protest process when it determines the rate at which it is not taking in additional revenue from existing properties over last year's collection levels.

The result is that the city's tax rate may actually lead to less revenue being collected from property taxes year over year, although that has yet to be determined, Rhodes-Whitley said.

In all, the city has asked departments to slash 5% from their proposed budgets to account for some of this uncertainty, City Manager Mark Israelson said. Still, even with these cuts, the city is planning for nearly $605 million in expenditures next year, a roughly $3 million increase.

Plano City Council will meet Aug. 15 for a work session to go over more details of the budget. Council is expected to vote on the final version Sept. 14.