City’s proposed FY2021 budget lowers property tax rate, focuses on maintaining services

The City’s proposed Fiscal Year 2021 budget would decrease the City’s property tax rate, making it the lowest of all cities in the Austin area with a population greater than 20,000 while maintaining high-quality services to the community. As a result of the lower tax rate and a decline in the average taxable value of homestead property, the average Georgetown homeowner is expected to pay lower property taxes next year.

“The proposed budget is intended to respond to pressures from both the uncertainty of the global pandemic and the continued growth in Georgetown,” City Manager David Morgan said. “We incorporated conservative revenue estimates and adjusted expenses to address the most significant impacts of a growing population to continue providing critical services at the high standards our residents expect of us.”

The full, proposed budget is available for review at finance.georgetown.org. It totals $396 million and reflects priorities shared both through public engagement and previous council discussions.

Morgan will present the proposed budget during the Aug. 11 City Council workshop, which starts at 3 p.m. The Council will set the maximum tax rate and public hearing dates during the regular Council meeting, which starts at 6 p.m.

In-person public comments to the council are limited due to COVID-19. People can visit agendas.georgetown.org for all options and details about how to provide comment.

The overall focus of the FY2021 budget is to preserve and maintain City services, in response both to continued growth and uncertainty from the COVID-19 pandemic. It addresses these priorities through utility and transportation infrastructure development, public safety improvements, long-range planning initiatives, economic development achievements, and sustaining City service levels.

The proposed budget takes a conservative outlook for the next fiscal year, with the overall budget coming in 10 percent lower than the adopted FY2020 budget. The General Fund, which pays for several, critical services such as public safety, streets, library services, and parks and recreation, would increase by 3.7 percent – lower than the city’s population growth of 7.2 percent.

The proposed budget would decrease the City’s property tax rate by $0.002. The average homestead property in Georgetown has decreased in taxable value by 2.3 percent, down from $284,765 in FY2020 to $278,001 in FY2021. Coupled with the decrease in the property tax rate, it is anticipated the average homeowner in Georgetown will pay $34 less in property tax in the upcoming year.

Other highlights in the proposed budget include the following:

  • 15.5 new positions, including staff for Fire Station No. 7 and two police officers
  • 14 frozen positions, for at least part of the year
  • $1 million in cuts to department budgets, including less funding for training, travel, and supplies
  • Competitive employee compensation and benefits, including market and merit raises for non-civil service employees, and market increases and annual step for public safety employees
  • $77.4 million in capital improvement projects, including investments in transportation, water and wastewater, electric, and the public safety complex.
  • Council discretionary funds for one-time uses, including small area plan development for the Track Ridge Grasshopper and San Jose neighborhoods
  • Initiating design for improvements to D.B. Wood Road, the last, large project from the 2015 bond.
  • Increased 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

IMPORTANT BUDGET DATES
June 10-June 26: Budget engagement
July 21: First Council budget 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 of the tax rate and budget

For more information, visit finance.georgetown.org.

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