Debt management is a key financial principle that guides the development of Southlake’s budget every year. This approach supports a financial strategy that will allow the City to retire 94% of the current tax-supported debt in 10 years.
“The City uses several different methods to reduce debt, including careful budget management, use of voter-approved special revenue funds, aggressive amortization schedules, paying attention to refunding opportunities, and using cash when possible for major projects,” said Southlake’s Chief Financial Officer, Sharen Jackson. “Our approach has allowed for a reduction in the City’s property tax-supported debt by 60% since 2003 in spite of ongoing infrastructure development.”
“Debt as a percent of assessed value (property tax) has decreased from over 3% in 2002 to a projected 0.44% in 2019,” Jackson notes. “For the fifth straight year, there will be no new property tax-supported debt. The City will use cash to pay for general fund capital needs.”
Special Funds Debt
The City has several special funds that are responsible for paying principal and interest on outstanding debt. These include the Southlake Parks Development Corporation (SPDC) for park-related projects, the Crime-Control and Prevention District (CCPD) for safety and security initiatives, and the Community Enhancement and Development Corporation (CEDC) for projects like Champions Club at The Marq Southlake.
“SPDC, CCPD, and CEDC are voter-approved corporations or districts that help support many services that the Council and our residents have told us are important,” said Southlake City Manager Shana Yelverton. “These funds are supported by a percentage of sales tax and any time we take on capital projects supported by these funds or the general fund, the City pays for them either in cash or with Council-approved low-interest bonds that maximize the City’s AAA and AA+ bond ratings.”
The city also has several revenue bonds that pay for City’s water and sewer system improvements. Debt payment on these bonds is supported by Southlake Water Utilities ratepayers.
Paying It Off
At $0.447 cents for every one hundred dollars of valuation, the City of Southlake’s property tax rate supports basic city services such as public safety, street maintenance, library, and community services. It also helps pay off the debt that’s been incurred projects such as new roadway construction. The rate will apply $.0357 for general operations and $0.09 for the debt service fund.
Total debt service fund expenditures for FY 2019 are projected to be $6,186,261 for annual principal and interest payments, as well as related administrative costs. The projected debt service balance for FY 2019 is $5,826,015.
Special funds are paid off through their own debt funds. Currently, there are no debt obligations for the Crime Control Prevention District. For FY 2019, the SPDC Debt Service Fund will cover total expenditures of $2,886,537, and the CEDC Debt Service Fund will cover total expenditures of $2,451,406.
“The City takes it debt obligation very seriously, said Yelverton. “Several years ago, we worked with the City Council to establish a strategy to reduce the debt as a percentage of assessed valuation over the long term. It’s good to see that percentage decrease year after year.”
In Southlake, safety and security are two of the City’s highest strategic priorities and new investments are proposed within the FY 2019 budget to advance a number of safety goals.
People who live, work or play in any community want to be able to go about their days without threat, injury or property loss. The degree to which they are safe and secure in their homes, or when they are out and about living their lives is often the result of efforts made by the local municipality.
“Becoming a victim of a crime or experiencing a significant health crisis can change lives forever,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “It’s our aim to minimize the risk, and if something does happen, to make sure we are exceedingly helpful in setting things back to normal.”
To ensure a high level of public safety, the City is focused on a number of key initiatives for the coming year, including improving school safety, ensuring that police and fire personnel have the equipment they need to perform excellently, and even funds to minimize the risk of mosquito-borne illness.
“Campus safety is a top priority of the Southlake Police Department. Our strong partnerships with Southlake families and Carroll ISD has helped create new opportunities to enhance school safety while keeping school faculty and our students focused on learning in a safe, protected environment,” said Police Chief James Brandon.
The Crime Control and Prevention District Board of Directors has allocated more than $500,000 from the District’s half-cent sales tax revenue to fund school safety initiatives. A task force is currently studying best practices and will identify ideas to assist Chief Brandon and the Police Department with their work. These initiatives will complement the work already underway by Southlake’s 12 School Resource Officers (SROs).
The PD will also make technology purchases to aid in investigative processes and protective gear for officers.
The Fire Department has also reviewed their programs and equipment so they are ready to respond as needed.
“Readiness is about ongoing training and having the equipment and materials we need to get the job done,” said Fire Chief Michael Starr. “This fiscal year we’ll be focused on emergency management planning and tabletop exercises, managing mosquito threats, and general training.” In addition, the Department will be purchasing a replacement fire truck.
Funds are also included in the budget for workplace safety and occupational training, designed to eliminate costly accidents and lost time, and safety at City facilities and parks.
“We have an important obligation to be vigilant and well-prepared. The resources provided through the budget are well-considered investments into the safety of our beautiful community,” said Yelverton.
City Manager Shana Yelverton has filed the proposed FY 2019 Budget for City Council consideration.
The proposed budget totals $103.6 million dollars and includes a proposed tax rate of .447¢, a reduction of 1.5 cents over the previous year. The reduced tax rate combined with Southlake’s 20% homestead exemption offers homeowners an equivalent tax rate of $.357 for the average valued Southlake home.
“Tax relief with an emphasis on outstanding City services is at the heart of the proposed FY 2019 budget,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “We have listened carefully to the Council and our residents and prioritized what is important to them and future of the City.”
The proposed budget also includes more than $500,000 for School Safety programs and initiatives to help kids feel safe while they are in school.
“Campus safety is a top priority of the Southlake Police Department,” said Chief James Brandon. “Our strong partnerships with Southlake families and Carroll ISD has helped create new opportunities to enhance school safety while keeping school faculty and our students focused on learning in a safe, protected environment.”
The FY 2019 Mobility projects will help keep connect Southlake. Projects like a proposed Texas Turnaround on SH 114 from Dove Road to Kirkwood Boulevard on the City’s northside and the proposed Zena Rucker Road Connector on the south side, will solve some ongoing traffic troubles.
“Efficient and safe transportation solutions that make sense to drivers is what we are striving for,” said Rob Cohen, the City’s Public Works Director. “The projects for FY 2019 have been in the planning stages for several years, and when you combine them with our projects from previous years, they help complete the blueprint that the Council approved in the 2035 Mobility Plan.”
Champions Club at The Marq Southlake
FY 2019 gets underway with the mid-winter opening of Champions Club at The Marq Southlake. With sales-tax supported construction and operations (through the Community Enhancement Development Corporation), the Marq Southlake will become wholly staffed in FY 2019 as a full-service event and recreation center. This year’s budget also includes a security strategy to help with customer peace of mind.
“Whether you come to The Marq to enjoy an event at Legends Hall, work out at Champions Club, or spend some time at the Senior Activity Center, we want our guests to feel like they are at home,” said City Manager Yelverton. “The operational plan for this facility puts the customer’s comfort and safety first,” she added.
“With this proposed budget, we continue our commitment to reducing debt,” said Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson. “As with previous years, 100% of our general fund capital improvement projects are being funded with cash including road construction projects currently underway on White Chapel Boulevard, and intersection improvements throughout the City.”
Jackson also noted that the City has a financial plan to manage the construction of the proposed Southlake Library located at Carillon Parc. “Just like The Marq Southlake and our other ‘big projects,’ we will work with the Council on a financially smart building and construction plan that will deliver a top-notch facility to our residents.”
“Enhanced protection in schools, improved mobility, an amazing experience at the new Champions Club, these are just some of the priorities of the residents and the Council,” said City Manager Yelverton. “The proposed FY 2019 budget delivers these priorities as well as sets the City up for some exciting future projects.”
For a complete look at the proposed FY 2019 budget please visit CityofSouthlake.com/FY2019