City Council will begin its discussions of the Fiscal Year 2021 budget with two workshops this week. City Council must adopt the budget by September.
The workshops on July 21 and 22 will give the Council a chance to weigh options and provide direction, so staff can come back in August with a proposed budget that reflects their feedback. If no additional discussion is needed, the July 22 workshop may be canceled.
The preliminary budget also incorporates feedback received from the public through an online survey in June. Of the more than 650 residents who took the survey, the majority:
- Would not support changes to property taxes or user fees.
- Rated the value of City services and the City’s efforts to address the impacts of growth as “Good.”
- Would support increased funding to manage traffic and infrastructure/roads.
A budget survey report and results are available online.
“I want to thank everyone who took our survey this year,” City Manager David Morgan said. “The City budget is one of the most important decisions we make each year, and it’s critical to ensure it reflects the priorities of the residents of Georgetown.”
The overall focus of the fiscal year 2021 budget is to preserve and maintain City services, in response both to growth and uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. It includes funding for 14.5 new positions, including staff for Fire Station No. 7, additional training for police, as well as initiating design for improvements to D.B. Wood Road, the last, large project from the 2015 bond. The budget proposal also includes cuts to base budgets in training, travel, and supplies as well as freezing six position in the General Fund for at least a partial year.
The preliminary budget does not include increases to the property tax rate but does reflect staff recommendations to increase sanitation rates to help pay for increased costs with Texas Disposal Systems, reconstruction of the transfer station, and improvements to the household hazardous waste program. Additionally, the City is working with a contractor to study the costs to provide water service and may recommend rate increases as a result. Due to projected revenue losses as a result of COVID-19, the preliminary budget does not include merit raises for City employees – a first in five years – and likely will result in fewer Parks and Recreation programming. The general fund budget does include a preliminary estimate of $82,000 toward market increases that will affect about 240 City employees across all funds, and an additional $656,000 for step raises and market increases for police and fire staff.
“We won’t know the true effects COVID-19 will have on our local economy and, as a result, the City budget, for several months,” Morgan said. “We do expect the uncertainty to last into the next fiscal year, and are budgeting conservatively, with that in mind.”
IMPORTANT BUDGET DATES
June 10-June 26: Budget engagement
July 21: First Council budget workshop
July 22: Second Council workshop
Aug. 11: First presentation of the full budget; City Council sets maximum tax rate and public hearing dates
Sept. 8: Public hearings and first reading of both the tax rate and the budget
Sept. 22: Second reading and final adoption of the tax rate and budget
For more information, visit finance.georgetown.org.