Thursday, August 5, 2021

Southlake City Council Approves FY 2020 Budget

Southlake City Council approved the proposed FY 2020 Budget at the September 17 Council meeting. The FY 2020 budget is a plan that reflects the City’s commitment to strong financial principles. It’s a strategic budget that aligns resources with organizational goals and aspirations.

Not only was the budget developed with a clear set of goals to guide decision making and promote long-term financial sustainability, it also has several notable accomplishments.

Tax Rate Reduction

The FY 2020 Budget includes a 3.7 cent property tax rate reduction, the largest in more than 25 years. The City has not increased its tax rate in 16 consecutive years. The budget also offers homeowners a 20% homestead exemption, the maximum allowed by law. The exemption is equivalent to an 8.2 cent tax rate reduction.
Structurally Balanced Budget with Optimal Reserves

The newly adopted budget goes beyond the State’s balanced budget requirements by ensuring the City has adequate reserves and optimal fund balances. The FY 2020 budget calls for $83.5 million in total reserves across all funds.
Although we hope there won’t be a time we will have to use the reserve funds, carrying a solid reserve amount allows the City to be prepared for unanticipated or emergency events. For example, weather can wreak havoc on infrastructure and these funds help ensure the City can repair roads, clean up parks or respond to any other issue that may arise.

This new budget sets aside more than $10 million in reserves to be used without restrictions and more than $72 million can be used under certain guidelines and restrictions. Those guidelines include funding for water and wastewater utilities, parks and the Library just to name a few.
Ensuring the safety and security of all those who live, work or visit Southlake is a top priority for the City and these reserve funds help us keep everyone protected.

Debt Reduction

Debt management was also a key financial principle that guided the development of the City’s budget. The City of Southlake has been able to manage debt so that 96% of the City’s current tax-supported debt will be retired in 10 years.

Methods used to reduce the City’s debt obligation include careful budgetary management, the use of voter-approved special revenue funds, aggressive amortization schedules, ongoing attention to refunding opportunities and the use of cash for projects when possible.
These techniques and strong bond ratings have allowed for a reduction in the City’s property tax-supported debt by 61% since 2010 in spite of ongoing infrastructure development.

The FY 2020 budget proposes the use of cash to fund all General Fund Capital Improvement Projects. These projects will add to the City’s roadway and sidewalk infrastructure, improving travel throughout town. The City has extensive infrastructure that needs to be both built and maintained, this cash funding strategy has allowed for the City to balance the payment and timing of expensive CIP projects. For FY 2020, $8.3 million in cash will be used to pay for these capital projects.

Funding that Meets Resident Needs

The FY 2020 budget was designed to meet residents’ needs and ultimately make their lives in Southlake better. A part of the reason the City is able to consistently keep the property tax rate low is thanks to sales tax revenue remaining strong.

The City is able to leverage the monies received from not only the sales taxes but also the monies received from the special taxing districts such as the Community Enhancement Development Corporation and the Southlake Parks Development Corporation. The revenue collected from these special sales taxes allows for the funding of amenities such as The Marq Southlake, which features both Legends Hall and the newly opened Champions Club, and the construction and maintenance of the City’s 1197 acres of parks.

The new budget also provides for the City to continue to offer the highest levels of safety and security. Sales tax dollars from the Crime Control and Prevention District coupled with other budgeted dollars will provide new equipment to the police and fire departments to keep them at the top of their fields, providing our residents and businesses with quality, professional public safety services. Projects managed by our Public Works team will also be funded to help improve drainage, water and wastewater systems and our Parks team will use budgeted dollars to ensure our Parks are maintained with an eye toward quality. Funding all of these areas was done with our residents and customers in mind.

Interested in learning more about the FY 2020 budget and how it will make your life better in Southlake? Visit www.CityofSouthlake.com/FY2020

Proposed FY 2019 Budget reduces Southlake Tax Rate

City Manager Shana Yelverton has filed the proposed FY 2019 Budget for City Council consideration.

Proposed FY 2019 Fast FactsThe 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.”

Protect Southlake

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.”

Connect Southlake

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.

Reducing Debt

“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

Homestead Exemption Increase approved by City Council

The City’s homestead exemption has been increased from 12% to 16% by unanimous vote of the City Council, the sixth property tax relief initiative since 2009.

“The 16% exemption returns the organic growth in property values to residential homeowners,” explained Chief Financial Officer Sharen Jackson.  “It is the equivalent of a 7 ½ cent reduction off the tax rate of $0.462 per $100 valuation, and it’s thirty 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 $462.

With the exemption, City revenue is reduced by $4,308 million from what would be received under the full tax rate.

“Our analysis considered how much relief we can provide while continuing to pay cash for capital projects, maintain appropriate reserves, and meet service expectations,” said Jackson.  “We have to consider the future impact of this decision.  I’m confident that we can continue to meet the needs of our growing city and adhere to our strong financial management principles with the implementation of this exemption.”

Previously the City has implemented tax relief initiatives in FY ’09, FY ’13, FY ’14, FY ’15 and FY ’16 with a focus on increasing the homestead exemption for residential property owners as new commercial properties have developed.

Last year the City was able to return the increase in property values to homeowners through the adoption of a 12% exemption.

City staff will work on the FY 2017 budget through the summer, finalizing it once certified values are received from each appraisal district.

Public hearings on for next year’s budget will occur in late August and early September.