A new recreation center, completion of 2013 bond projects and successful passage of 2019 bond propositions topped Robert Camareno’s list of notable city accomplishments during the past year.
“I can say we’ve come a long, long way,” he said while introducing a $242.4 million budget proposal to New Braunfels City Council members Monday afternoon. “We’re experiencing tremendous, unprecedented growth in our community that brings increased population and demand for the services we provide.
“While that’s always been a challenge, each year we’ve done what we can to address those needs. Although we can’t address them all, I certainly believe we’ve done a very good job in prioritizing and implementing those needs and addressing others through a phased approach.”
Camareno’s 50-minute, 63-page slideshow, featuring historical photos commemorating the city’s upcoming 175th anniversary in 2020, reviewed the city’s recent successes and addressing future community priorities through “sustainable and sound financial planning.”
All city funds will total $242,421,504, combining $201,090,320 in budgeted expenditures with $41,331,184 in year-ending fund balance. It’s a $56.3 million increase over last year’s $186.1 million budget, largely due to finishing 2013 bond projects and starting 2019 bond projects.
“There was a lot of time spent on projecting expenditures and revenues, not only through the end of this fiscal year but also into the next,” Camareno said of the document, which also outlines municipal needs for the upcoming year.
Camareno reported adjusted city appraisals of certified values in Comal and Guadalupe counties increased from $7.58 billion in 2018 to $8.499 billion this year, with taxable values rising 12.6%, from $6.421 billion to $7.230 billion. General fund revenues are projected at nearly $72.7 million, with general fund expenditures totaling $74.4 million, 8.3% more than last year.
Capital funds will total $70.4 million, with capital improvement projects (35%) and public safety (21%) receiving the largest slices of budgeted expenditures. Public safety comprises 54% all general fund services; the overall budget maintains the city’s 30% fund balance.
Uniformed fire and police responders will receive market salary adjustments and step plan increases totaling at least 3%, with non-uniformed city employees slated for cost of living salary adjustments of 2% and merit increases of up to 1.5%.
“Our staff is our greatest asset,” Camareno said. “They are the ones who provide the services to our community on a daily basis and we certainly want to ensure that sure we are not only attracting but retaining the talent we have in our organization.”
The budget also contains outlays for durable equipment, street improvements, software and other necessities. Camareno noted allocations of $450,000 to replenish the city’s equipment replacement and facilities maintenance funds are in the budget – ahead of when the city feels the brunt of legislation capping property tax revenues beginning in 2020-21.
The budget was calculated with a 2019 proposed combined tax rate of 48.822 cents per $100 assessed property valuation, which if approved would remain the same for a third consecutive year. The 2019 effective tax rate is 45.292 cents, and the rollback tax rate at 48.822 cents.
On Monday, council unanimously approved the preliminary tax rate and scheduled public hearings, all in council chambers at 6 p.m.
The first, soliciting public input on the budget and tax rate, will be held Thursday, Aug. 22, with another public hearing and first reading of ordinances to adopt both set for Tuesday, Sept. 3. The second and final readings leading to final adoption will be held Monday, Sept. 9.
Special council workshop budget sessions began Tuesday and will continue through next week, all at 4:30 p.m. in the Tejas Room in city hall, 550 Landa Street.
Tuesday’s session addressed general fund departmental outlays; Wednesday’s session will review enterprise funds for the airport, solid waste and golf course; employee compensation and self-insurance funding. Civic/convention center and other funding accounts will be discussed Monday, Aug. 19; if necessary, unaddressed issues will be covered on Tuesday, Aug. 20.
City council regular and workshop sessions will be televised live on Spectrum government access channel 21 and AT&T access channel 98, and streamed live on the city website, www.nbtexas.org.