Council approves 2020 budget
If there was contention regarding the city’s proposed budget, residents didn’t show it at Tuesday's Burleson City Council meeting, where, after no one spoke at the public hearings, the Council unanimously approved the city’s budget for the 2020 fiscal year.
The budget, which focuses on cost containment, employee compensation and the enhancement of public safety response capabilities, states the city’s total expenditures in the next year will be $100.2 million; Burleson’s first $100 million budget, according to City Finance Director Rhett Clark.
The city’s total revenue will increase to over $102 million, nearly $6 million more than the previous fiscal year. Sales tax revenue is projected to rise to nearly $10 million, a 10.3 percent increase from last year, with sales tax comprising 24 percent of Burleson’s total revenue.
Burleson will eliminate two full-time positions - deputy city manager and senior planner - in its cost containment efforts, saving $373,000 by doing so.
Clark said the city has reduced non-public safety employees by 22 percent over the last 10 years in an effort to make efficient use of taxpayer money.
In order to enhance public safety response capabilities, the budget allots money for three new police officer positions, a police records clerk, a victims assistance coordinator, an additional firefighter position at Johnson County ESD No. 1, Station 83, and more overtime funding for the paramedic squad at Fire Station No. 1.
Overall, the budget states a net increase of 6.5 full-time equivalent positions from 2019, for a total of 397.83 full-time equivalent city positions for the upcoming fiscal year.
The Council voted to lower the property tax rate from $0.7350 to $0.7200 per $100 valuation, with over half of the revenue going toward maintenance and operations and the remaining toward debt service.
Despite the rate decrease, Burleson will raise more total property taxes than last year by $693,567 - a 2.86 percent increase in revenue. Due to appraisal values, which are determined by the Central Appraisal District, many homeowners’ property taxes will rise.
When the Council was preparing to approve a decrease in the property tax rate, the council member who motioned to do so was required by Texas law to state that the measure would increase tax rates. Councilman Todd Hulsey said although he’s required to say it, it’s a lie.
“I’ll second that lie,” Mayor Pro Tem Dan McClendon said after Hulsey finished reciting his state-mandated motion.
Mayor Ken Shetter said when the state and federal government maintain the same sales and income tax from year to year, effectively causing people to be taxed more as they spend and make more money than the previous year, no one requires them to call it a tax increase.
Shetter said although the property tax system is “unfair” and “painful,” the Texas Constitution only allows local governments certain sources of revenue - property taxes being one of them.
“I will happily implore our state leaders to find a better way to fund local government,” Shetter said. “You find it, we’ll be happy to utilize it.”
“I would like to say, officially, to state legislators, to the governor, to the lieutenant governor - get off our backs,” Shetter said. “Quit trying to decide, to dictate how local government does its business.”