Weatherford Democrat

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August 2, 2012

Willow Park looking at better budget year

WILLOW PARK — Willow Park is looking at budget numbers with a little more breathing room this year.

Sales tax revenue has been up about $70,000 over the past nine months and property appraisals have risen from $324 million to $331 million resulting in an increase of about $125,000 in revenue for the city, according to City Administrator Candy Scott.  

The Willow Park city council had their first go round with a staff proposed budget Monday night as they started the process.

Under the proposed budget numbers given to the council, the city’s total tax rate would remain at just over 47 cents per $100 valuation, with much of the expected increase in revenue going toward road maintenance projects.

The general fund would increase from the current $2.643 million to $2.97 million under the proposed budget, according to Scott.

The Interest and Sinking portion, or fixed debt service part of the tax rate, is expected to be lower this year because the city was recently able to refinance outstanding bonds.

The refinancing saved the city about $60,000 to $71,000 per year, according to Scott.

Council member Gene Martin noted that the remaining portion of the tax rate, the part going to maintenance and operations for the city, has seen a trend of going up in recent years.

One of his objectives is to stop that, Martin said.

The theory is that as the tax base increases, the city brings in more money, allowing the rate to go down, according to Martin.

That portion of the property tax rate goes to the city’s general fund and does not help with water and sewer infrastructure needs, as that money comes from a separate fund, Martin pointed out.

If the city is going to fix the roads, they are going to need funding, Mayor Richard Neverdousky said.

Under the proposed budget, $100,000 of the additional property tax revenue would be put in the general fund for road improvements for a total of $250,000 dedicated for that purpose, according to Scott.

Police Chief Brad Johnson is also requesting $50,000 for five new vehicles to be purchased with a lease purchase agreement, according to Scott. The needed vehicle purchases were delayed in previous years.

Scott did tell council members the city would like to add an assistant court clerk to help with tasks that could result in a net increase of about $11,000 in revenue for the city because of additional collections.

As far as the current budget goes, the city is expected come in under budget on many expenses, as well as bring in more revenue than previously budgeted, according to Scott.

“Everybody just watching the spending has helped a whole lot,” Scott said.

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