Oak Ridge North's fiscal year 2020-21 tax rate and city budget were unanimously approved by City Council during its Aug. 24 regular meeting.

Following public hearings on both items, council members voted 5-0 for a city tax rate of $0.4712 per $100 property valuation and a budget of $4.38 million in spending and $4.31 million in revenue. The approximately $75,000 difference will be financed through transfers from the city's economic development corporation, tax increment reinvestment zone, and water and sewer fund.

The new tax rate is 3.84% lower than the city's current rate of $0.49 per $100 valuation, and includes a $0.3024 maintenance and operations rate and $0.1688 debt service rate. The new rate is the city's voter-approved tax rate, or the highest rate that could be set without the possibility of a resident election.

Spending and revenue set in the FY 2020-21 budget were both slightly decreased from the city's amended FY 2019-20 budget. The $4.38 million in expenses is around 1.91% lower than the $4.47 million in spending included on the previous budget, and the $4.31 million in revenues is 0.97% lower than the current year budget's $4.35 million. Final FY 2019-20 spending and revenue are both estimated to fall below their budgeted levels.

The $1.8 million in police department expenses makes up the largest portion of the city's budgeted general fund expenses at just over 41% of the total, around 1.47% lower than police spending originally budgeted for FY 2019-20. Other department spending ranges from around $150,000 for street maintenance to just under $996,000 for city administration.

Around $1.68 million in capital expenditures financed through reserves, funds and grants is also budgeted for the coming fiscal year. That figure includes $765,000 for drainage projects; $335,000 for street, sidewalk and parks projects; and $311,000 for water and sewer system projects.

After approving the tax rate and budget, council members also unanimously approved a contract for a drainage project along Westwood Drive aimed at relieving flooding in the area. The approximately $99,000 construction contract was granted to Rebel Contractors.

City Manager Heather Neeley said the construction costs and $30,000 engineering contract approved earlier this year leave the project over budget, with the difference to be funded from the city's capital improvement fund.

"It is $39,000 over what we had initially budgeted for, but we do have it within the capital budget," she said.

Council also approved spending around $34,000 in engineering costs to separate portions of the design for a future improvements along Robinson Road. Initial designs run from the eastern edge of Montgomery County's ongoing improvement project on Robinson around Patsy Lane through the turn lane at the city's commerce park east of Hanna Road.

Officials said the project's separation into two portions east and west of Blueberry Hill Drive will allow the city to move forward on the eastern section, centered on an intersection realignment at Robinson and Hanna, before considering additional improvements along the central section of Robinson between Patsy and Blueberry Hill.

Following an executive session, council also authorized Neeley and Mayor Paul Bond to seek advice from the city's financial advisor on securing up to $10 million in possible financing for future capital projects.