Council members set to vote next month on budget for city

Joshua Baethge,
The Van Alstyne Leader
Van Alstyne City Council Member Marla Butler, from left,  Mayor Jim Atchison and Council Member Robert Jaska are seen in a screenshot discussing the proposed city budget during the Aug. 25 council meeting.

The local property tax rate would remain unchanged according to the proposed fiscal year 2020-21 budget presented by Van Alstyne City Manager Lane Jones to the city council Aug. 25.

Lane vowed to use taxpayer dollars carefully while continually striving to provide high-quality municipal services.

“We’re a prosperous community, we’re financially stable and we have an economically vibrant city,” Jones said. “The mission of this budget was to continue that.”

COVID-19 social distancing guidelines limited those in attendance at the meeting to the council and city staff members. Residents were invited to watch the presentation live via Zoom and had the opportunity to ask questions.

There were no public comments during the meeting, a recording of which can be viewed on the city’s YouTube channel, youtube.com/channel/UCGcMXDcBtfYCJmFrJ5zXMwQ.

This marks the third consecutive year that the city will not propose a property tax increase.

In 2017, the rate was $0.635138 per $100 of property value. That number dropped last year to $0.584456 per $100, a rate the city plans to maintain.

The proposed budget assumes a continued strong property tax growth rate and sales tax revenue.

In July, the city set a record for the most sales tax revenue generated in any single month. Property tax revenue also increase by $49 million or 16 percent from last year to this year.

These upward trends will allow the city to continue expanding staff and services to keep up with expected growth without making cuts or raising taxes.

The proposed budget would spend less money than the amount expected to be generated. It would also allow the city to hire additional firefighters, a chief financial officer, as well as additional library staff and wastewater workers. The budget also accounts for a recently hired code compliance officer.

Street maintenance funding is slated to be increased. This would allow the city to be more proactive in addressing issues.

Currently, 33 percent of the city’s general fund comes from property tax revenue and delinquent fees associated with them. Development fees, community service fees, permitting and other related fees account for 21 percent of the fund, while sales tax revenue brings in 19 percent.

As the city continues to grow, that balance will likely change with sales tax revenue surpassing property tax in time.

Van Alstyne’s top three expenditures are the police department (22 percent), parks (21 percent) and city administration (19 percent).

A final public hearing and vote on the proposal will be conducted during the Sept. 8 city council meeting.