By Mason W. Canales
Killeen Daily Herald
HARKER HEIGHTS – The city is trimming but not cutting all the fat out of its budget for next year.
"Optimistically, I see a good future for us, but just like everyone else we are going to have to tighten our belts and get through the next two years," City Manager Steve Carpenter said.
With property values increasing this year, and a strong increase in sales tax revenues, the city is more worried about the 2010-11 fiscal year budget than the 2009-10 budget.
"That next year is really the unknown," Finance Director Alberta Barrett said. "We don't know how long that cycle (the national economic situation) is going to run."
In order to be prepared for the next two years, the city is going to be more conservative when it comes to spending and projecting its revenues, Barrett said.
Being more conservative can be accomplished by delaying equipment replacements, limiting new personnel, cutting spending for a few projects and watching the economy every day, Carpenter said.
"We are trying to hold everything tight and close this year without making any major cuts," Barrett said.
In the 2008-09 fiscal year budget, the city was planning to make several transfers from its fund balance to help pay for certain projects, but it is now attempting to limit those, so it has more reserves going into the next two years, Barrett said.
"We are trying to keep a flat budget to keep with the projected flat growth," Barrett said.
While more than 100 houses were built in Harker Heights this year, city officials are concerned the housing market will cool off and property values could decrease.
"We need to prepared for that, if that should happen," Carpenter said. "If it doesn't, then great."
The city also is expecting its sales tax revenues to drop back to typical growth levels of 5 percent instead of the current 30 percent or 40 percent increases it has seen this year, which it is attributing to Market Heights opening, Barrett said.
Residents can still expect to see several projects in the next year or so, Barrett added.
Purser and Goode parks are anticipated to start the planning phases next year. Residents can expect to see the second phase of the Farm-to-Market 2410 Community Park begin as well as construction on the Indian Trail project and the animal shelter. A proposed $5 million bond for construction projects should help the city meet the projected 2020 population demand.
"You will still see a lot of stuff happening," Barrett said.
Contact Mason W. Canales at firstname.lastname@example.org or (254) 501-7554.