HARKER HEIGHTS — The city’s fiscal year 2015 budget proposes keeping the same 67.7-cent tax rate, with general fund revenues projected at $18.99 million and expenditures at $18.92 million.

City Manager David Mitchell told City Council members on Tuesday that the proposed budget is balanced and does not increase rates or fees.

Mitchell praises plan

“It also provides continued resources to provide high-quality services to our citizens while providing for the needs of the employees and helping us with the recruitment and retention of our employees,” Mitchell said.

The budget reflects a projected $8.44 million fund balance and exceeds the three-month operating requirement of $4.63 million, according to documents.

With certified property values at about $1.59 billion, the new fiscal year budget accounts for about $7.94 million in ad valorem taxes.

Finance Director Alberta Barrett said maintaining the same property tax rate is less than the effective rate of 69 cents — the amount the city could tax to generate the same revenue as last year.

The budget raises an amount less in property taxes than last year by $201,614.

Barrett said the calculation takes out appraisal district refunds issued during the 2013-2014 year; refunds for the new budget year are not yet in.

Officials also are remaining conservative in estimating sales tax revenues at $5.97 million, though the new Wal-Mart neighborhood market is expected to have an impact once it opens later this year.

Pay increase in budget

Of the budgeted expenses, salaries and benefits are estimated at $13.56 million.

Barrett said employee expenses include a 3 percent salary adjustment, two new positions in the police department and a new position for the fire department.

Also included in proposed expenses is $41,000 for the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce.

Mayor Rob Robinson requested officials consider a $5,000 request from the Greater Killeen Free Clinic, made at the July 22 meeting.

Councilman Spencer Smith said he would prefer the money go to the clinic than the Greater Killeen Chamber of Commerce, which was in initial proposals, because Harker Heights has its own chamber.

A public hearing on the budget and tax rate is scheduled for Aug. 26, and adoption of both are set for Sept. 9.

Other actions

Council members also:

• Approved switching from Scott & White’s medical insurance to Blue Cross Blue Shield, which submitted the lowest prices in the city’s request for proposals.

The city also received responses from Scott & White and the Texas Municipal League, said Bob Tracy, with the firm representing the city in receiving the proposals. Blue Cross Blue Shield allows Seton Medical Center Harker Heights to be in network, and employees can still use the insurance to go to Scott & White.

• Approved extending the city manager’s contract from January to Dec. 30, 2016, with a 5 percent pay raise in January.

Contact Rachael Riley at rriley@kdhnews.com or 254-501-7553

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