City Manager Shana Yelverton has filed the proposed FY 2020 Budget for City Council consideration.
The proposed budget totals $104.8 million dollars. This includes a 3.7 cent tax rate reduction, the largest in more than 25 years. Southlake’s 20% homestead exemption offers homeowners an equivalent tax rate of .328 cents for the average valued Southlake home, or about a $148,000 taxable value reduction.
Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson presented the FY 2020 Budget Guiding Principles at the August 6, 2019, City Council meeting sharing the news of the tax rate reduction for the first time. “Each year when we’re in the process of developing the budget, homeowner tax relief is always in the forefront of our minds in thinking through how we can provide relief to our residents,” noted Jackson.
Since 2009, City Council has worked strategically to target meaningful tax relief for homeowners, and the 2020 budget is no different.
“One of the goals that this Council set a couple of years ago was to continually, year after year, look for ways to cut the taxes for our citizens,” Mayor Laura Hill commented during the meeting. “Understanding that appraisals are constantly an issue of them going up, so to have a new tax rate that’s below the effective rate, and still offer the 20% homestead exemption to our residents which really gives them an extra piece of pie as compared to our commercial properties, I think that’s really important. Our residents made a huge investment to raise their families here in our community.
It’s just outstanding. At the end of the day we’re living within our means and while we are a wealthy community we might say ‘Hey we make lots of money, let’s spend lots of money.’ We can do things big and better and fancy but at the end of the day the money belongs to the taxpayers and we learn to manage that money and still build an incredible community.”
Debt reduction is once again a priority in the FY 2020 Budget. “Continuing our commitment to reducing debt is paramount when we are in the process of preparing the budget,” said City Manager Shana Yelverton. “We strive to pay cash for our general fund capital improvement projects, and this year is no different from previous years. 100% of those projects will be cash funded in FY 2020.”
The multi-year Capital Improvements Program (CIP) identifies projects that will be undertaken in the upcoming five-year period, as well as projects beyond that timeframe. In FY 2020, the CIP includes funding for sidewalks as well as roadway projects across the City that are designed to help make travel within Southlake quicker and smoother.
“The City of Southlake installs and maintains miles and miles of sidewalks to provide our residents general connectivity,” notes Yelverton. “One of the CIP projects for FY 2020 is Citywide Pathway Improvements to add more sidewalks in Southlake. Not only will this add to connectivity it will also offer more safe routes to travel.”
Improved mobility and enhanced protection for those who live, work and visit Southlake are just some of the priorities for residents and Council. The proposed FY 2020 budget delivers on these priorities.
FY 2020 mobility projects will continue with the City’s mission to keep connecting Southlake. Projects in the budget include the Zena Rucker Road Connector and improvements to some key intersections that will help alleviate ongoing traffic troubles.
“Getting drivers to where they need to be in the safest and most efficient way is always what we’re always striving for,” said Public Works Director Rob Cohen. “Some of the projects in FY 2020 have already been underway for a while, but the new ones scheduled to start really help illustrate the vision of the 2030 Mobility Master Plan. It’s not always easy to clearly envision what the plans speak to, but we’ve already made some great progress on CIP projects and look forward to helping new ones become a reality.”
While you typically think of the Police and Fire Departments when it comes to protecting the community, in Southlake we take a team approach. Building Codes are in place to safeguard those inside buildings, and up-to-date and maintained infrastructure helps ensure continuation of services.
The proposed budget takes all of that into account and includes allocations to ensure the highest quality protection for Southlake. Initiatives include system capacity improvements for Southlake sewers, upgraded technology and equipment for police officers and firefighters, ongoing funding for school safety and the School Resource Officer program, funding to replace a fire ladder truck and additional equipment for the Outdoor Warning Siren Notifications.
“Emergencies and disasters happen when we least expect them,” said Fire Chief Michael Starr. “Sometimes we’re lucky and we have a little bit of heads up that trouble is on the way. We can’t always prevent disasters from happening, but we can be prepared to deal with them. Having a plan is key. The safety initiatives in the proposed FY 2020 will help us continue to execute and fine-tune our plans.
You can learn more about the proposed FY 2020 budget by visiting CityofSouthlake.com/FY2020