Georgetown City Council set the maximum 2012–13 tax rate at $0.41 and set public hearing dates in August. The maximum rate was approved 4–3 with council members Tommy Gonzalez, Rachel Jonrowe and Troy Hellman voting against.
The adoption of the maximum tax rate would allow council to adopt the $0.41 rate or a lower rate after a public meetings, which will be held Aug. 14 and 20 at 4 p.m. in council chambers at 101 E. 7th St.
"This vote does not set the [tax] rate," said Micki Rundell, chief financial officer for the City of Georgetown. "It means you can go lower, but you cannot go higher [than that rate.]"
If approved, the $0.41 tax rate could increase the average homeowner's tax bill by $46 annually or $3.79 a month. The average home value in Georgetown is $185,915, which is nearly a 1 percent increase over last year's average home value of $184,959, Rundell said.
"It's my opinion that we need the flexibility to have a slightly higher rate. No one likes to pay more taxes, but in order for us to meet the five-year goals that we have established, that are, I feel, a great step to move the city forward in reaching those goals," City Councilman Danny Meigs said. "I think we need to have the flexibility to have a public hearing to hear from the citizens to hear how they feel about this."
The effective tax rate, which would have brought in the same amount of revenue as the previous year's rate, is $0.397502. City Council approved the higher rate with the intent that the city could fund items in the budget that would have been debt funded and not increase the budget, Rundell said.
Council is expected to set the tax rate and approve the budget on Sept. 11.
The proposed 2012–13 budget was based on implementing year one of a five year plan to create a "City of Excellence." The five-year plan incorporated City Manager Paul Brandenburg's priorities for 2013, priorities from the 2030 plan and the city's five-year capital improvements projects planning.
"We kind of bat around this term—a City of Excellence. If we want to be a city of excellence, what does that take? Are we there or what does it take to be a city of excellence?" Brandenburg said in a presentation to council July 9.
The first year of the plan could include staffing and operations for Fire Station 5, which is expected to be in operation by October; completing the design for the public safety training and operations facility; and investing in downtown, parks, city facility planning and implementing an employee compensation plan.
Brandenburg said the plan would help direct how to issue voter approved bonds for parks and recreation projects, as well as road improvement bonds.
"How do those things all factor into the upcoming year's budget? Not only in the upcoming year but in years two, three, four and five," he said. "That's really the purpose of putting together this business plan—to plan financially beyond just one year, but looking at multiple years at what that's going to do."
Finance Director Susan Morgan said in a presentation to City Council on July 9 that the plan would help lay the groundwork for what the city would look like in 2017.
"There is a big 2030 plan that's a long ways out there, so we picked five years to look five years down the road," she said.