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FY13 Budget Q & A
Posted Date: 8/10/2012 10:45 AM

FY13 Proposed Budget

What is the time schedule for adoption of the FY13 budget?

After the budget is presented to the city council on Aug. 9, a series of budget workshops is scheduled for Aug. 16-17 and Aug. 20-21. A public hearing will be conducted on Aug. 23, and final adoption of the budget and tax rate is set for Sept. 13.

What is the proposed budget’s primary focus?

The City of College Station’s proposed Fiscal Year 2013 budget focuses on public safety and infrastructure.

What is the budget’s total amount?

The Fiscal Year 2012 – 2013 proposed budget for the City of College Station totals $253,133,611, which includes $212,643,409 for operations and maintenance, and $40,490,202 for capital projects.

What is the proposed property tax rate?

For the second straight year, the budget includes a slight reduction in property taxes to the effective rate of 43.0687 cents, a decrease of .7308 cents from the current rate of 43.7995.

That is the lowest property tax rate in College Station since 2001. Last year's rate already was the fifth lowest in the state among similar-sized cities (75,000-125,000 population). In the last two years, the tax rate has fallen by 1.6856 cents per $100 assessed valuation.

The effective tax rate is the rate needed to generate about the same revenues on the same properties as last year. The total certified value of property in the City of College Station for 2012 is about $5.94 million, which is an increase of 3.6 percent from last year. The increase was due in part to new property values from new construction of about $119.4 million added to the tax rolls. Existing property values increased by about 1.5 percent in 2012.

Will any utility rates, such as electric or water, be increased?

The budget includes no increases in electric rates, water, drainage or sanitation. A 4 percent rate increase in electric rates was expected after being postponed last year, but it will be postponed again partly because of the ongoing change in the electric fund transfer policy.

A 5 percent increase is proposed for wastewater rates to fund projected operating, debt service and capital costs for the wastewater system.

What is the utility fund transfer and why is it being reduced?

The Utility Fund Transfer is the benefit to College Station citizens for ownership of various utilities (electric, water, sewer, solid waste collection). Last year, the city began a multi-year plan to reduce the transfer from the Electric Utility to the General Fund to ensure the transfer is reasonable and does not create a significant burden on the electric utility and electric rates. The reduction is necessary for the long-term health of the electric utility, which has seen rate increases in recent years due to purchased power costs.

How much is the utility transfer being reduced?

The transfer will be reduced by $1 million this year after a $2 million decrease in FY 12, bringing the total reduction in the last two years to $3 million. The city’s previous policy capped the transfer at 10.5 percent of electric operating revenues. The new policy caps the transfer at 6 percent.

How much money will new budget reductions save?

Reductions announced in early August will save about $500,000 in the General Fund. These reductions include the elimination of 10 budgeted full-time equivalent positions throughout the organization. In the last five years, more than $7.65 million has been removed from the operations and maintenance budget. From FY11 to FY13, a total of 53.75 positions have been eliminated.

What impact will these reductions have on public safety?

In the recent citizen survey, residents ranked public safety as the city’s highest priority. From FY09 to FY13, 43 public safety positions have been added, or are proposed in the FY13 budget. This includes staffing for Fire Station No. 6, which will open later this year and will be staffed by 18 firefighters. The station was approved in the 2008 bond election.

What specific increases are proposed for the Police Department?

The proposed police department budget includes $895,681 for the addition of 1 sergeant, 6 officers, and associated vehicles and equipment. These additions will help address traffic congestion and crime in the Northgate Entertainment District. The budget also includes $62,423 for the addition of a police assistant in the Criminal Investigation Division to free sworn officers for other tasks.

How much money does the budget allocate for capital projects?

In the recent citizen survey, residents ranked street and road maintenance as the city’s second highest priority. The proposed Capital Improvements Budget is $40,490,402. When added to existing appropriations, the total expected to be spent on capital projects in FY13 is about $65 million. Capital funds come from various sources, including General Obligation bonds authorized by voters, certificates of obligation supported by tax and utility rates, and cash reserves from the General or Utility funds.

Does the Capital Improvements Budget address traffic and transportation needs?

A total of $280,700 is proposed in the Public Works budget for traffic and transportation projects, including $45,000 for a traffic signal synchronization and timing project, $50,000 for an upgrade to fiber optic traffic signal communication, $100,000 for a Traffic Operations Master Plan and $35,700 for an Asset Management and Work Order System for Traffic. Also included is $50,000 for an Intersection Operational Improvement Analysis.

Does the proposed budget include a pay increase for city employees?

The proposed budget includes a 2.5 percent performance-based pay increase for city employees. Maintaining a competitive pay and benefit structure allows the city to attract and retain well-qualified employees who provide services to residents and visitors. Continued funding also is included for the step plan to help the Police Department be more competitive in recruiting and retaining officers.

Are changes proposed for employee benefits?

The budget proposes slight changes to employee retirement plans, but the changes will not affect the 7 percent employee contribution or the 2-to-1 match from the city.

How did economic conditions affect the budget?

Economic conditions have been a bit more positive than they have been in several years. Sales tax revenues have seen stronger growth in the past year, and property values have increased as well. Growth has been seen in the northern part of the city with all of the activity planned in the University Drive/Northgate area, as well as the anticipated activity in the Biocorridor area.

Growth also continues in the southern part of the city with the progress of new and expanded medical facilities, and continued retail development in the Tower Point area. However, there is still a great deal of uncertainty in the economy. Decisions on important issues such as the future renovation or replacement of Kyle Field could have a significant impact on the local economy.


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