Sugar Land facing budget gap

Sugar Land officials will likely need to increase the city property tax rate in the coming fiscal year, otherwise they will need to cut costs, as expenses are projected to outpace property tax revenue, according to a presentation made at Thursday’s budget workshop.

If the city council decides not to raise taxes, the city will need to consider cutting staff, eliminating services, reducing performance-based payments, cutting back on capital improvement projects, or a combination of these options, said Jennifer Brown, Sugar Land’s director of finance.

The current property tax rate is 0.31595 per $100 of taxable value, which generated $39.68 million of revenue for the city in FY 17, Brown said in her presentation. To cover necessary expenditures and contractual increases, the budget office estimated needing property tax revenue of $40.8 million in FY 2018 to meet projected expenses.

Brown said the cost of doing business for the city increases roughly 3 percent every year on average. Meanwhile, sales tax revenue fell short of the fiscal 2017 projected amount by $864,000, contributing to the shortfall, she said.

Council members will decide on Tuesday the amount of a possible property tax rate, and will then circulate it to the public for comment. The city council will then hold two public hearings on the proposed tax rate Aug. 22 and Sept. 5.
By Renee Yan
Renee Yan graduated May 2017 from the University of Texas in Arlington with a degree in journalism, joining Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in July.