For the fourth straight fiscal year, it appears that Harker Heights will maintain its property tax rate of 67.7 cents per $100 of assessed property value, after the city reduced its tax rate from 69.96 cents in 2009.
After a seconding by Mayor Pro Tem Rob Robinson, the Harker Heights City Council on Tuesday unanimously approved a motion by Councilman Pat Christ to include the tax rate in the proposed fiscal year 2014 budget. The council will finalize its tax rate after holding two public hearings later this month.
“A combination of growth and just planning ahead on the part of the council … has allowed the rates to be maintained,” City Manager Steve Carpenter said.
Finance Director Alberta Barrett presented the fiscal year’s proposed budget, which showed no hikes in water, sewer or sanitation fees, despite the fact that sanitation expenses are expected to rise more than revenues. The budget projects a $69,400 spending increase in the sanitation budget, a $56,300 revenue rise over this fiscal year.
The preliminary budget estimates the city will spend about $17.5 million of an available $19.3 million in operating revenue, after absorbing an estimated $9.9 million from property taxes, city documents stated. Total proposed budget expenditures are estimated to rise about $100,000 over this year, $800,000 above fiscal 2012.
Next fiscal year, the city is projected to earn about $826,000, or 8.8 percent, more in property taxes than this year, about $324,000 of which will come from acreage recently added to the city’s tax rolls.
The rising property values and tax revenue have allowed Harker Heights to invest in capital improvement projects such as a master water plan, a 10-year sewer improvement plan, a multi-year street improvement program, and a master parks plan, Carpenter said.
The city estimates revenues for fiscal 2014’s capital improvement fund at about $8.6 million, and expenditures at about $7.1 million.
The most expensive proposed projects are a $1.9-million earmark for wastewater lines and mains east to Levy Crossing, a $1.2-million fund for general street improvements, and a budgeted $1 million for Farm-to-Market 2410 turn-lane construction and widening from South Amy Lane to U.S. Highway 190, which the city nominated for TxDOT funding.
At $9.5 million, salaries are the highest proposed expense, and include the new position of part-time recreation aide.
The city will host public hearings on its budget and tax rate Aug. 20 and 27, and will adopt the official budget and tax rate Sept. 10.