According to the city’s presentation, budget cuts in 2020 included not making new hires, cutting new capital projects and narrowing spending to items considered “essential.” Revenue shortfalls included the loss of restaurants and local businesses as well as the shutdown of the Katy Mills Mall. City officials cited making it to Oct. 1, 2020, the start of fiscal year 2020-21, as its “No. 1 goal” as the full scope of the pandemic’s effects began to become more clear in spring of last year.
As the city showed photos of an empty Katy Mills Mall parking lot on Easter weekend, officials discussed the concerns they had in April and May regarding its income from the sales tax decreasing significantly as shoppers stayed home.
Katy Mayor Bill Hastings outlined his pandemic-response budget goals to include the following: continuing to provide excellent services to all Katy residents and businesses; keeping all city of Katy employees employed; avoiding any interruptions to health care; avoiding any changes to retirement funding; and returning to the pre-pandemic budget.
“When we started talking about the budget, that was probably the most panicked I’ve been in all of my years,” Hastings said. “We were talking about such a shortfall, and we were expecting it to be worse than it actually ended up.”
According to the presentation, the majority of revenue came from property taxes, at 41%, and sales taxes, at 37%. The city’s largest expenses were public safety, at 58%, and general government expenses, at 24%.
The presentation also detailed upcoming mobility projects within Katy, citing plans for the following seven transportation projects.
- Katy Fort Bend Extension, Phase 3
- First Street Extension & Bridge
- Katy Hockley Cut-Off (from Morton to Clay)
- Pederson Road
- Fort Bend County’s Texas Heritage Parkway Project
- TxDOT’s FM 1463 Widening Project
- TxDOT’s I-10 Widening Project
Last year, Katy's appraised value increased by more than $300 million as the city welcomed developments from American Furniture Warehouse, Domino’s, Southern Glaziers and Amazon Prime. As such, property taxes were actually lowered by 6.8%, despite pressure from the pandemic.
“Everybody was at home,” City Administrator Byron Hebert said. “So they bought furniture, they ordered online, they drank a whole lot, and they ate pizza.”
“That was our saving grace,” Hastings said.
Looking towards 2021, the city noted its elevated sales tax revenue and continued growth regarding home starts and commercial development in the area.
“Recovery is going to be a long process, but you know what? We’ve recovered from many, many things,” Hastings said. “Most of us in this room, especially if you’re my age—we’ve been through a lot. As you get older, you get a little more patient. We will recover from this. We will be good.”
This story has been updated to reflect that the event was hosted by the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce.