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August 6, 2012

Revenues up, employees on track to get COLA

HUDSON OAKS — In small towns, not much changes over time.

Such is the case here, as city officials say not much has changed from last year’s budget to the 2012-13 budget. The budget is ready for public perusal both online and at City Hall. City Administrator Sheri Campbell-Husband encourages residents to come on by and discuss any problems or concerns with city staff who are willing to explain everything.

She says there are not many significant changes in the budget. She said there will be a slight increase in employees as City Secretary Sheila Elmore will be training someone to take over her position in January after she leaves following 24 years with the city.

“There will be about a three month overlap there where we have two people,” Campbell-Husband said. “Everything else will be remaining the same.”

According to the budget book, sales tax revenues will increase by 3 percent over the amount projected in last year’s budget. City water rates will also increase by 8 percent based on the plan established in the 2010 rate study.

Original projected revenues last fiscal year were $1,862,261. This year’s are expected to be $2,026,910.

General fund expenditures for 2012-13 are $1,979,655. With a $75,000 transfer to other funds coming out of the city’s reserve budget, the budget is expected to be in a slight overall shortfall of $27,745.  The city’s reserve will still be at $738,014 to start next year, or about 33 percent.

The city is required to keep 30 percent of its budget in reserves as a sort of “rainy day” fund.

There were some small changes to the fiscal year budget, which takes effect Oct. 1. The city has reinstated as part of a budget a 3 percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for all employees and up to 2 percent in merit increases who earn them via annual performance reviews. Last year was the first time the funds were not included in the budget, as it was included in the individual employees retirement plans, Campbell-Husband said.

The city will also begin its median landscaping project later this year. Bids are expected to be let out in September. Under the $1 million proposal, in which part of the money is coming via TxDOT all the medians will be reconstructed and are expected to be completed by December.

A pair of 20 foot high stone monuments with raised lettering will be placed at the Lakeshore exit and also on the right of way in front of Kwik Kar welcoming people to the city, which is what many residents wanted, Campbell-Husband said.

“They wanted a better identfication of our city,” Campbell-Husband said. “We’ve been trying to get this median project off the ground for the last two years to help our economic development better reflect the demographic of our community.”

After a few months to allow the monuments time to settle, landscaping will be put in during the spring of 2013.

The city will also start an aggressive branding campaign, including a redesign of the city’s website which is scheduled to begin in early 2013.

The proposed budget also includes plans for the completion of a water system study to assess improvements needed to make future demand. The last study was completed in 2001 following the finish of the city’s last Capital Improvement Plan. The city just recently finished its last CIP.

A water rate study was completed in 2010 and an infrastructure study is due in the near future.

The city is also working to continue maintenance and repair of its roads in conjunction with the county. Assessment of which roads need to be worked on is done every two years. Campbell-Husband says working with the county helps save money.

Roads scheduled to be worked on this fiscal year are:

North Oakridge Drive to level up the roadway edges, Canyon View Court to overlay the cul-de-sac. Both Newel and Ravenbend Drive will be overlaid and reconstructed where necessary. The 235,000 square foot project is expected to cost about $120,000.

The city will also do the same amount of community outreach as in past years. Helping in projects like National Police Week and the Miles for Mammograms in conjunction with the Parker County Hospital District helps residents maintain their health and get to know public officials.

Last year’s Boomin 4th was a tremendous success that will be continued. The city spent less than $6,000 on the project as the fireworks were underwritten by Jerry’s GM & Southwest Auto Group, which has agreed to provide the cost once again next year.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for Aug. 23. The budget is expected to be approved by the council that evening.

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