Friday, July 29, 2011
Positive outlook comes out of Plano budget presentation
Sales tax trends have been positive seven out of the previous nine months.
While the nation's leaders focus on a compromise with the debt limit, budget talks continue all the way down to the local level. Luckily for Plano, the tone was more congenial.
On Wednesday night, City Manager Bruce Glasscock presented his proposed budget for the 2011-2012 fiscal year, which maintains the current property tax rate of 48.86 cents per $100 assessed property valuation and includes a 2 percent pay increase for all city employees.
Glasscock said the employees have not gotten a salary increase since October 2008, and it's something that has been brought up in many budget discussions. The city came up with the additional $2.4 million needed for the raises.
"We still have world-class services here, and we never want to forget our employees who are delivering them," Mayor Phil Dyer said. "They're valued, and we get a chance this year to do something for them."
Balancing the $408.1 million combined operating budget was made possible with unexpected revenue increases. Although property valuations were originally expected to decrease slightly this year, the city's total assessed property values actually increased 1.4 percent, totaling $25 billion.
Budget Director Karen Rhodes-Whitley told the council sales tax trends have been positive seven out of the previous nine months. Collections are ahead nearly 10 percent from last year, bringing in an extra $4.2 million. Sales and property tax revenues account for 41 percent of the combined budget resources.
Back in March, city staff predicted a $9 million deficit for the next fiscal year and approached the individual departments to report back on potential reductions. They were able to find $7 million in one-time and ongoing reductions for the current and proposed budget.
Some savings came from voluntary operations and maintenance savings from the Parks and Recreation Department ($722,000), the Police Department ($564,000) and the Public Safety Department ($332,000). Additional savings were found by eliminating 18 unfilled positions.
In the last four years, Plano has seen $39.5 million in total reductions and the elimination of 142 full-time positions and 22 part-time positions.
So what does this mean for Plano homeowners?
The average home value dropped slightly from $245,802 to $245,074. Considering additional tax rates for Plano ISD ($1.37), Collin College ($0.09) and Collin County ($0.24), the average tax bill will be $4,888.
Rhodes-Whitley also spoke about the Community Investment Program, which accounts for $86.3 million in expenditures next year. Some of the major projects include renovations for the Technology Services Building and three fire stations, street projects, land acquisitions and Parks and Rec. projects.
"It's typical Plano: deliver the best for the least [cost]," Dyer said. "I think our city is run very efficiently ... we're well-positioned for the future."
The council will adopt the city's operating budget and set the tax rate on Sept. 12 before the new fiscal year begins Oct. 1. Information regarding the recommended budget is available on display at the public libraries and at www.plano.gov/Departments/Budget. An Aug. 13 work session is open to the public.
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