HARKER HEIGHTS — The City Council voted unanimously Tuesday to approve the tax rate, the fiscal year 2014 budget, and changes in the city’s rates and charges.

The budget maintains the current tax rate of 67.7 cents per $100 valuation for fiscal year 2014. The general fund revenues are projected at $17.895 million and expenditures total $17.546 million.

The ending fund balance is projected at $7.917 million, $3.555 million more than the three-month operating requirement of $4.361 million.

The city has reduced its tax rate four times over the last 10 years, according to Finance Director Alberta Barrett. The rate went from 69.96 cents to 67.7 cents in 2009, and the city has maintained that rate ever since.

“The quality of life in our city is reflected in our citizens taking care of their property,” said Mayor Pro Tem Rob Robinson after the vote. “They have confidence in their government to make good use of their money.”

The utility fund revenues are budgeted at $9.328 million and there is no increase in water or sewer fees. Expenses are budgeted at $9.369 million, leaving a projected fund balance of slightly more than $5 million, which is more than the three-month operating requirement of $1.679 million.

Drainage fund revenues are budgeted at $743,700 and expenditures at $726,100 leaving a fund balance of $47,569. There is no increase for drainage fees.

Revenues are budgeted at $1.979 million and expenses total $1.994 million in the sanitation fund, which leaves a fund balance of $51,667.

Debt service fund revenues are budgeted at $2.560 million and expenditures at $2.565, which leaves a fund balance of $28,916.

Including benefits, all fiscal year 2014 city salaries will reflect a 3 percent adjustment and will total $12.9 million, about $600,000 more than last year, documents stated.

Barrett said she attributes the smooth budget approval process to good planning.

“We are fairly conservative in our spending and we try to be good stewards of those funds,” she said.

In addition to approving the tax rate and the budget, the council also voted to approve changes in the city’s fees and rates schedule.

Instead of charging residents and nonresidents an electrical fee to rent a pavilion or amphitheater,  Barrett explained that pavilion and amphitheater rentals for residents will increase from $15 to $25 and from $40 to $65 for nonresidents.

Grass cutting on private property that is overgrown and causing a nuisance will now cost the land owner an additional $100, with a $200 minimum, in addition to whatever cost the city incurs to mow the piece of land.

Reinspection fees per reinspection, which includes reinspection of any failed inspection, are increasing from $35 to $50, and working without permits will now cost violators $250.

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