COPPERAS COVE - The Copperas Cove City Council has begun the two-month process to determine the next city budget.
City Manager Ryan Haverlah presented the proposed 2021 fiscal budget to the council during Tuesday evening’s workshop session at the Technology Center. He noted at the beginning of his presentation this was simply an introduction to the proposed budget and the council would be meeting a number of times in the next few months to discuss and determine the final numbers.
The biggest takeaway from the budget presentation was that Copperas Cove residents would be paying more for water, sewer, solid waste and drainage next year. The proposed property tax rate is just under 78.65 cents per $100 of assessed property value. Though the budget shows an expected property tax collection increase of 2%, Budget Director Ariana Beckman told the council that the increase would be created by shifting some money from debt-service into the General Fund.
Total budget expenditures for all city funds are projected at $45.27 million. Total revenue for all funds is projected at nearly $43.59 million.
As expected, the biggest gap between revenues and expenses is in the city’s General Fund. Beckman noted during his budget presentation that the city faces a constant challenge in balancing incoming revenue with increasing costs. That includes supplies and materials as well as the need to hire employees to fill open positions and appropriately compensating current employees to keep them from leaving for jobs in other communities.
General Fund expenses are projected to be over $18.88 million, while expected revenue is just under $17.66 million. The gap would be closed by using the city’s General Fund balance, projected at $6.42 million at the start of the new fiscal year. The city would be able to maintain its ideal fund balance, which is calculated as three-months of anticipated expenses without any offsetting revenue. But, once that $4.6 million ideal fund balance is subtracted, there would only be about $598,000 left over in the General Fund. That’s about $1.4 million less that the city projected to have over and above the ideal fund balance last year.
Water, sewer, and solid waste fees will go up by 5% in the proposed budget. Residential customers would see the amount they pay for 1,000 gallons of water increase by 24 cents. Commercial customers would see their fee per 1,000 gallons increase by 29 cents. All customers would see their sewer rate increase by 29 cents for every 1,000 gallons of water used.
The charge for a 96-gallon trash bin would go up by 95 cents monthly for homeowners. The same size bin for a commercial customer would go up by 98 cents a month.
Tuesday’s workshop was the first of several budget meetings set for the council over the next two months. The next meeting will be held next Tuesday to discuss the city’s major operating funds and departmental budgets. The proposed tax rate will be discussed at a workshop on July 21. A public hearing on the proposed budget is expected on July 23, while a public hearing on the proposed tax rate is expected on Aug. 4. That is also the date the council is expected to vote on adopting the budget and the tax rate.