Killeen City Manager Ron Olson got a head start on the 2018 budget with an expansive overview of the city’s financial status and preliminary revenue projections provided the Killeen City Council at its workshop Tuesday.
Olson provided the council with current revenue projections for the 2018 general fund as the first step in his initiative to build the city’s budget around available resources — a process he said he has not always been followed by past city administrators.
According to the current projections, the city’s general fund revenues will stay relatively flat with approximately $80.8 million in revenue.
During an exclusive walkthrough of the city’s “budget war room” April 11, Olson told the Herald he is working to add a number of steps to the budgeting process that will help clarify council priorities and streamline financial decision making.
“There are a number of management priorities that are not in place that need to be in place,” Olson said.
Central to this process is Olson’s vision for a capital outlay fund that would pay for one-time growth expenditures like new building or infrastructure projects.
According to Olson, the city currently does not have any comprehensive plan for capital outlay or a single fund to manage each of those projects, instead shelling out money to a number of accounts that are difficult to track and opaque to residents.
With the new fund, extra operational revenue would be redirected to pay for one-off items that would be in line with the city’s capital outlay plan.
“I’m going to strongly recommend that the council consider it,” Olson said. “It would be very transparent and part of the budget process.”
At the workshop, Olson presented the council with demographic projections, property value assessments and sales tax figures measured against 12 “benchmark” cities similar to Killeen in size and economy.
In comparison to those cities, Killeen is in the bottom third of general fund revenues, with cities like Lubbock, Amarillo, Waco and Abilene outpacing Killeen in filling their coffers.
Olson’s presentation also included graphs and charts comparing the evolution of the city’s general fund from 2007 to 2017.
The general fund pays for the operational costs of the city, including public safety and administration.
Olson also provided a timeline for the 2018 budget process, which will include a public budget forum for Killeen residents on May 23.
Olson said Tuesday he was working to provide more opportunities for residents to ask questions and dive deeper into the city’s finances before and after the first draft of the 2018 budget is presented to the council July 11.
A slideshow presentation of the budget hearing will be available today at bit.ly/2pzbz3k.
The Herald will be following the budget process leading up to Olson’s public budget forum.
If you find something interesting in the budget update presentation, contact the Herald at email@example.com.
In other business, the council:
Received a midyear report on the city’s finances from Finance Director Jonathan Locke. Locke said the city’s general fund balance is projected to have a net increase of more than $50,000 from the adopted budget.
According to the presentation, the general fund on the whole has spent around 37 percent of its projected expenditures for fiscal year 2017 — below the 42 percent of the year that has passed so far.
Discussed retaking final platting review from the city’s planning and zoning commission while representatives from the city’s developer and consulting community spoke against the move.
Local civil engineer Pedro Quintero said the move would hinder development throughout the city by adding an unnecessary intermediate step in approving development plats.
According to state law, a municipality has 30 days to approve a development plat if the plat meets city design standards, but the council retaking review would add another two weeks to that process.
Despite that, the council reached a 5-2 consensus to draft an ordinance retaking control with Councilmen Juan Rivera and Brockley Moore in dissent.