The proposed FY 2021 Budget has been submitted by City Manager Shana Yelverton to the City Council for consideration.
The proposed budget totals $105.2 million and includes a ½ cent debt tax rate decrease, reducing the total rate to $0.405. The tax rate reduction means a revenue reduction to the City of $388,500.
Southlake’s 20% homestead exemption continues for FY 2021, the highest amount allowed by law. The 20% homestead exemption means homeowners of an average-valued home in Southlake will receive the equivalent of an 8.1 cent tax rate reduction.
“Several years ago, the Council set tax cuts for our citizens as a goal,” Mayor Laura Hill said. “At the end of the day, our taxpayers expect us to manage tax dollars responsibly and it is important that the City is a good steward and using the funds for the betterment of the community.”
The City Council has been working strategically for meaningful tax relief for homeowners, managed with the consideration that Southlake continues to grow, and infrastructure will need to be created and maintained. View a timeline of tax relief initiatives.
How did the City come up with this budget?
Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson presented the FY 2021 Budget Guiding Principles at the August 4 City Council meeting, sharing the strategy map to deliver on six focus areas: Safety and Security, Mobility, Infrastructure, Quality Development, Partnership and Volunteerism and Performance Management and Service Delivery. Watch the presentation.
“In preparation for the budget, I look at several data sources to help project revenue,” Jackson said. “Using data from the residential and commercial sectors, employment numbers, consumer spending, and the impact from COVID-19, I analyze various economic scenarios to determine what we can expect in the future and make financial projection decisions accordingly.”
Using a modified zero-based budget process, department directors prepare plans to fund the services the city will offer. Proposed expenses are carefully vetted before they are included in the budget proposal.
The budget includes project recommendations from the comprehensive plan and prioritizes CIP projects according to the Master Plans and the City’s ability to fund them. Cash will be used to pay for most of the important capital improvement projects. The City will issue short-term bonds to supplement cash payments.
The amount budgeted for capital projects is $13.7 million. Planned capital improvement projects include improvements for drainage, parks projects like the Southlake Sports Complex improvements, as well as traffic and intersection safety initiatives.
The conservative budget sets up Southlake with an eye towards the future given the COVID-19 pandemic while maintaining essential services like streets, water and sewer, as well as envisioning other projects to make Southlake the ideal place to live, work and play.
What about reducing debt?
The total debt fluctuates depending on projects funded during the year. Since 2010, the City’s property tax-supported debt has been reduced by 69%. The remainder of the current property tax debt obligations will be paid off in less than ten years.
“This is an important gauge of the City’s fiscal health and an important indicator that bond rating agencies review when determining the rating they will assign to city debt,” Jackson said.
The debt reduction prepares the City to handle projects that will require bonds in the future, such as a new library, a potential open space program, CIP projects, and updating the aging infrastructure.
How is the City managing expense growth?
As a practice, the City limits operation budget growth to a benchmark reflective of the consumer price index. This means the cost of existing services shouldn’t exceed the cost growth of services in DFW. For FY 2021, the proposed General Fund budget growth is 1.5%.
Structural balance is a guiding principle to budget creation in Southlake. The City does not draw down from its reserves to pay for operating expenses and projected revenue must cover all planned expenses. Through this mindset, the City has paved the way to achieving optimum reserves and exceed the optimum fund balance to create an opportunity to pay cash for large projects.
What about providing quality services?
The outlined budget aims to continue the Southlake tradition of quality services not only with projects but with hiring and keeping quality public servants. Even with an estimated revenue reduction, the City of Southlake does not anticipate pay cuts or layoffs.
The proposed budget ensures the City of Southlake retains and recruits world-class employees. Under the General Fund accounts, about 70% goes toward labor-related costs. This includes compensation and benefits that are market competitive but holds the line on costs. In 2021, the City proposes a cost of living adjustment of 1.5% consistent with the City’s policy on compensation.
What’s the financial plan during so much economic uncertainty?
Most importantly, the budget presented is sustainable into the future.
Following the financial guiding principles positions the City for budget stability, even during difficult economic times.
“The decisions we make today affect our financial situation in the future,” Yelverton said. “We must provide outstanding service to the community while balancing our ability to pay in the coming years.”
Learn more about the FY 2021 budget at www.CityofSouthlake.com/FY2021.
In the next 7-10 days, property tax valuations for Southlake homeowners will arrive by mail from Tarrant and Denton Counties. And because of all the change due to the COVID-19 social distancing orders, there are also adjustments to this year’s Tarrant and Denton County protest processes.
For Denton County homeowners, the appraisal notice will be mailed by April 29. For Tarrant County residents, notices are scheduled to be sent on May 1.
“For FY 2020, the City reduced the tax rate by 3.7 cents for a valuation of $.041 per $100,” said Sharen Jackson, Southlake’s Chief Financial Officer. “Homeowners also need to make sure their 20% homestead exemption is in place and, if applicable, the senior tax freeze, and an over 65/disability exemption of $75,000.”
Exemptions At Work
To apply for your exemptions, follow these simple steps.
CFO Jackson also said that the 20% homestead exemption for an average valued Southlake home ($740k) reduces the taxable value by $148k, an average a savings of $607.
For FY 2020, the tax rate went from $0.447 to $0.41, which results in additional savings of $222 for homeowners. Most of the rate ($.33) supports general city operations. The other portion of ($.08) pays down on debt that the City has issued to build public infrastructures such as roads, sidewalks, and public facilities. The City tax rate constitutes about 15% of the total tax levy in Southlake (depending on the school district).
Because of current social distancing guidelines, each appraisal district will handle protests differently this year. Both appraisal districts are encouraging residents to use their online protest systems and to create a user profile on the appropriate appraisal site.
If you live in Denton County, click here for Denton Central Appraisal District protest procedures. Denton County residents can create their user profile by using their Google, Facebook, or Twitter account. For more information, visit https://www.dentoncad.com/protestfaqs. The deadline to file a protest with Denton County is 30 days after the postmark on your appraisal notice.
The Tarrant Appraisal District has pulled together a news and FAQ page for property owners. They also advise taxpayers who are preparing to protest to activate their TAD.org online account now. The deadline to file a protest with Tarrant County is June 1, 2020, or 30 days from the mail date listed on the notice, whichever is later.
If you have any questions, please call us at (817) 748-8042. If you prefer to contact your appraisal district directly, the numbers are below.
Tarrant County Appraisal District
2500 Handley Ederville Road
Fort Worth, TX 76118
Denton Central Appraisal District
3911 Morse Street
Denton, TX 76202
For more information about the City’s tax rate, please visit www.CityofSouthlake.com/TaxInformation
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
Over the next several weeks, property tax bills will arrive in Southlake homes.
“Now is the time to make sure you’ve got all of your exemptions in order,” said Sharen Jackson, Chief Financial Officer. “The City of Southlake offers homeowners a 20% homestead exemption, a senior tax freeze, and an over 65/disability exemption of $75,000. It’s quick and easy to make sure they are applied to your home.”
Southlake’s current property tax rate is $.462 per $100 valuation. Most of the rate ($.362) is used to support general city operations. The other portion of the rate ($.10) is used to make payments on debt that the City has issued to build roads, sidewalks and public facilities. The City tax rate constitutes about 19% of the total tax levy in Southlake (depending on the school district).
So how do you make sure you are receiving the homestead exemption? Just follow these steps:
Property Taxes Explained
Property taxes – also called ad valorem taxes – are locally assessed. The City of Southlake, as one of the local taxing units, sets the City tax rate and collects property taxes based on the taxable value of properties within City boundaries. Taxable value is the appraised value less the value of the appraisal cap and locally approved exemptions.
The Tarrant Appraisal District appraises property located in Tarrant County and the Denton County Appraisal District appraises property in northern Southlake, which is located in Denton County.
If you have questions please call us at (817) 748-8345. If you prefer to contact your appraisal district directly, the numbers are below.
Tarrant County Appraisal District
2500 Handley Ederville Road
Fort Worth, TX 76118
Tarrant County Tax Assessor/Collector
1400 Main Street, Suite 110
Southlake, TX 76092
Denton Central Appraisal District
3911 Morse Street
Denton, TX 76202
For more information about the City’s tax rate, please visit www.CityofSouthlake.com/TaxInformation.
The City’s homestead exemption has been increased from 16% to 20% by unanimous vote of the City Council on first reading, the seventh targeted property tax relief initiative since 2009.
“With their approval of the ordinance on first reading, the Council has increased the homestead exemption to the maximum allowed by law,” explained Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson. “The 20% exemption is the equivalent of a 9.25 cent reduction off the tax rate of $0.462 per $100 valuation, and it’s 25 percent higher than the exemption offered last year.”
On an average-valued Southlake home, this exemption results in an annual savings to the homeowner of $620.
With the exemption, City revenue is $5.7 million less than the revenue that would be received under the full tax rate.
“There are many factors to consider in our analysis including how we can provide relief without compromising our ability to maintain adequate reserves, meet our community’s service expectations and pay cash for needed capital projects, ” said Jackson. “This exemption reflects a long-term financial strategy put into place by the City Council that balances the needs of a growing city with the public trust.”
Previously the City has implemented tax relief initiatives in FY ’09, FY ’13, FY ’14, FY ’15, FY ’16, and FY ’17, with a target of increasing the homestead exemption for residential property owners as new commercial properties have developed.
Last year the City was able to return the majority of increase in property values to homeowners through the adoption of a 16% exemption.
City staff will work on the FY 2018 budget through the summer. Public hearings for next year’s budget begin in late August and with adoption scheduled in mid-September.
The proposed FY 2015 budget offers homeowners a 10% homestead exemption which will cut approximately $52,000 in taxable value from the average homeowner’s tax bill. The structurally balanced budget supports continued investments into improved mobility and maintains limited expenditure growth.
“In FY 2015, the City will not be incurring any additional General Fund debt,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “The City will pay for many high-impact capital projects with cash, while effectively reducing the property tax rate with the homestead exemption.”
Yelverton noted that advancing the City’s master plan, Southlake 2030, is also achieved in the proposed budget. As the Phase 1 construction of the Community Recreation Center (CRC) gets underway, the City will set aside funds for phase II.
“Southlake voters will determine if the CRC’s second phase will move forward,” said Yelverton. “If they approve it, two million dollars from the FY 2015 Capital Budget will be reserved to help with the Phase 2 construction costs.”
Another significant project is the City’s investment into the Phase II improvements of Davis/Randol Mill Road (FM 1938). In FY 2015, the City will set aside $500,000 for continued enhancements bringing the project total to $3.465 million. When completed the road will be four lanes wide with raised medians for improved driver’s safety. The road will also contain Share The Road bicycle signs as a visual reminder for motorists.
Yelverton noted there are seven proposed capital improvement projects which are focused on increased mobility. The projects range from the North White Chapel widening project to improving access for drivers at Southlake Market place located at the intersection of Davis and Southlake Boulevard (FM 1709).
“We have heard through the Citizens Satisfaction Surveys, emails, social media, public meetings and every day conversation how important it is to improve mobility, maintain service levels and manage the tax rate,” said Yelverton. “This budget is designed to support those priorities and advance the Council-approved short-term, mid-term and long-term goals.”
The Council will conduct its first budget work session on August 19th starting at 5:30 p.m. First reading is scheduled to take place on September 2nd with second reading and the public hearing scheduled to take place September 16th. The City of Southlake proposed FY 2015 budget is available online at www.CityofSouthlake.com/FY2015. A hard copy is available for review at the City Secretary’s office or at the Southlake Library.