Weatherford is currently progressing through the budget process, and city council is expected to adopt the fiscal year 2020 budget on Sept. 24.
Last month, council proposed a tax rate of 48.79 cents per $100 valuation, which is lower than the current rate but is higher than the effective rate, which is 46.79 cents. The tax rate helps to fund a budget of $61.9 million, which includes funding for new fire and police stations.
The council has held public hearings on the tax rate, and there will be another one on the tax rate and budget on Tuesday, Sept. 10.
The Democrat spoke with Weatherford’s Marketing and Communications Director Blake Rexroat to get a break-down of the budget and tax rate, and how it could affect Weatherford residents.
Weatherford Democrat: What are the revenue sources for the city?
Blake Rexroat: The city has many revenue sources, but the largest two are sales tax and property tax. Our FY20 budget estimates that we will receive $14.94 million in sales taxes, all of which pay for services delivered out of the General Fund (police, fire, planning/development, administrative functions such as finance and HR, public works, etc.) Estimated property taxes for FY20 are $12,649,581, which pays for a portion of our debt service ($3,851,747) as well as General Fund operations ($8,797,834).
WD: What are the city’s expenditures?
BR: Total budgeted expenditures for FY20 are close to $62 million. This includes General Fund services, debt service costs, various capital projects, the stormwater and solid waste utilities, and several smaller special revenue funds. The General Fund tends to get the most focus during our annual budget discussions, and its total budget is $38.1 million for FY20.
WD: By definition, what is the effective rate? The proposed FY20 tax rate is more than the effective rate, correct?
BR: In a nutshell, the effective rate is the tax rate we would have to levy in order to receive the same amount of revenue as FY19 from properties that were on the both last year’s and this year’s tax rolls. It basically would give the city the same amount of property tax revenue that we’re getting this year, net of any new property developments. You are correct, our proposed FY20 rate is higher than the effective rate.
WD: How could the proposed tax rate impact residents’ property tax bill?
BR: For every $100,000 in property value, the taxpayer owning said property would owe the city $20 more annually. So, for instance, if my home were valued at $180,000 my tax bill would go up $36 dollars/year under our proposed rate.
WD: What impact does it have on residents when the tax rate is higher than the effective rate?
BR: Generally speaking, a tax rate higher than the effective rate will increase a resident’s tax bill. Each individual taxpayer’s situation may be different.
WD: By how much did Weatherford property values increase this year?
BR: In the aggregate, property values increased about 7 percent, net of any new properties that came on the tax roll.
WD: Is the city expecting to bring in more money than last year? If so, how much more?
BR: Yes, recurring revenues are projected to increase around $2 million to match cost increases.
WD: Have the city’s expenditures increased? If so, by how much and why?
BR: Yes — approximately $700,000 is directly associated with annual increases in the cost of keeping our service levels consistent with the current year. A little over $1 million is related to new initiatives designed to increase the level of service delivered to our citizens. Finally, $250,000 is related to this city’s proposed initiative to expand capital projects for public safety.