Leander’s proposed budget would lower the property tax rate by 2.1 cents, add 21 jobs, provide employee raises, continue with park and road improvement projects with 2016 voter-approved bonds, build ball fields and renovate an old fire station to be used for city offices.
The typical homeowner would see a $73.91 increase in taxes because of rising property values.
“This budget addresses our major goals of continued tax rate reduction, implementing the 2016 bond program, maintaining a competitive compensation program and addressing the service needs of one of the fastest growing cities in the nation,” said City Manager Kent Cagle.
According to the U.S. Census the population of Leander grew 12.5 percent from 2015 to 2016. The city will add more than $2.6 million in tax revenue from new property this year. The proposed budget includes a 4 percent raise for employees that would cost $271,357 and a 5 percent raise for police and firefighters costing $256,149.
The $127.8 million budget also includes about $2 million in salaries for 18 new positions paid partly by property taxes and three new utility positions paid with revenue from the utility fund.
The new posts include a deputy court clerk, a development services receptionist, a planning technician, a public works project manager, a street drainage maintenance position, two trails maintenance technicians, a parks and recreation manager and four patrol officers.
The other positions are a traffic/canine officer, a police lieutenant, a police professional standards corporal, a police evidence supervisor, an emergency planning specialist, a logistics officer for the Fire Department, a water system operator, a regional water operator-in-training and a pump and motor mechanic for wastewater maintenance.
The proposed budget also includes $14.3 million in voter-approved bond projects.
The money will be used to build Mason Creek Trail, provide landscaping in the median of Crystal Falls Parkway from Ronald Reagan Boulevard to U.S. 183, design and construction of the first phase of Lakewood Park, Metro Drive construction, design and right-of-way acquisition for Raider Way, the final design of East Street and the final design for the extension of San Gabriel Parkway to Ronald Reagan.
Other projects in the budget that are not part of the voter-approved bonds include $1.5 million to put new power lines, new lighting and streetscaping on Brushy Street, and $500,000 for railroad quiet zones to be installed by Capital Metro at Metro Drive and San Gabriel Parkway where the trains will not use horns when approaching highway crossings.
The quiet zones are expensive because of the electronics and the coordination required with the railroad crossing, Cagle said.
The proposed budget also includes $400,000 to build two T-ball fields at Benbrook Ranch and $2.2 million to remodel Fire Station #1 to be used for development offices.
Since the proposed property tax rate is the same as the effective tax rate, only one public hearing is required. That will be at 7 p.m. Sept. 7 at City Council chambers, 201 N. Brushy St.
The budget will be approved on the same day after the public hearing.
By the numbers
Leander’s proposed budget: $127.8 million, up 2 percent from the proposed budget last year of $124.9 million. The city says that is due to increased demands because of development and population growth.
Proposed tax rate: 57.8 cents per $100 valuation. That’s a 2.1 cent decrease from this year. The proposed tax rate equals the effective tax rate, which is the rate that will raise the same amount of money as it did for the previous year on existing property.
Bottom line: The city portion of the tax bill would be $1,646.11 for the owner of an average home worth $284,795. That is an increase of $73.91 over last year’s tax bill for the average owner with a house worth $262,471.