By Joe Reavis
The budget season officially started last week for Wylie City Council members who reviewed an early overview of income and expenses for fiscal year 2015-2016.
Preliminary budget figures were presented by City Manager Mindy Manson in a workshop conducted as part of a regular council meeting Tuesday, June 9.
“We’ll focus on the general fund, primarily, tonight because that’s the lion’s share of the budget,” Manson said.
The general fund includes most functions of the city, such as administration, public safety, streets, parks and recreation, and courts. The other major fund, with separate revenue and expenses, is the enterprise fund for water and sewer services.
General fund revenues are projected at $33.4 million next year and expenses are estimated at $31.4 million. Those numbers include a 9 percent increase in assessed property values and maintaining the current property tax rate on the revenue side, and expenses that include step pay increases for public safety personnel, average 3 percent merit-based pay raises for other city employees and a 10 percent increase in health insurance premiums.
The preliminary revenue estimate also includes a 5 percent rise in sales tax revenues, to $9 million from $7.8 million and 350 new homes starts.
“Sales tax has been very strong,” Manson said.
She also pointed out that court fees are expected to about double to $660,832, due primarily to stepped up enforcement of commercial vehicle laws.
“We are starting the year in pretty good shape,” she pointed out.
The city manager and Finance Manager Linda Bantz have gathered FY 2015-16 requests from department heads that could increase expenses by $4.58 million, but the council is expected to trim those wish lists over the coming weeks.
The departmental request include adding 35 new employees to the city payroll, additional equipment associated with personnel requests and miscellaneous other expenses.
A goal in the budgeting process is to maintain 25 percent in unencumbered funds, about $8 million, to fund emergencies. The city is expected to end the current fiscal year with a fund balance of $10.3 million.
Revenue estimates were prepared using a tax rate of 87.89 cents per $100 assessed property valuation, the same tax rate set in 2014. With an estimated 9 percent rise in property valuations this year, that tax rate would increase city revenue.
Mayor Eric Hogue instructed Manson to prepare figures showing estimated revenue at tax rates of one-half cent and one cent lower than the current levy.
The council will not set the tax rate until property valuations are certified in July by Collin Central Appraisal District. The appraisal district will provide three rates, the actual levy, the effective rate and a rollback rate. The effective rate is the levy that would generate the same revenue as in the prior year taking account of increased property values, and the rollback rate is eight percent above the effective rate and can trigger an election to reduce the levy.
Manson reported that she started meeting individually with department heads this week to fine tune expense requests.
Department heads will present their requests to the council on July 16 and July 21, a proposed budget will be available for public inspection on Aug. 5 and public hearings on the budget and tax rate are set for Aug. 25 and Sept. 1. The budget and tax rate are expected to be adopted on Sept. 8.
The council conducted a public hearing and gave approval to changing zoning on 69.87 acres from agriculture to single family dwellings to accommodate an addition to Kreymer Estates East subdivision, located east of W.A. Allen Blvd and north of Stone Road.
Seeking the zoning change was Jim Douglas of Jim Douglas Properties in Plano who reported that the addition is platted for 245 home lots.
Wylie resident Evan Brown, who lives in a home adjacent to the subdivision expansion, requested that one lot be eliminated from the plat to allow an open space area for wildlife next to a wooded area.
Douglas pointed out that the plat, at this point, is a concept and that he will look at making changes that could accommodate Brown’s request.
A second public hearing was conducted to subdivide a 3.16-acre acres lot in the Woodbridge Center I subdivision into three commercial lots. The lots are located west of Woodbridge Pkwy. and south of FM 544.
The council approved of the zoning request to split the larger lot into three sites.
An executive session was held to discuss possible tax lien foreclosure actions, but the council took no action when it returned to open session.
The council meeting started with presentations to recognize several Wylie residents and city employees.
Three couples were presented with Blue Star Banners designating that they have family members actively serving in the military.
Receiving the banners, and their service member, were Dennis and Christie McBride for Andrew McBride, serving in the navy; Randy and Karen Gann for Joshuah Prince, serving in the marines; David and Jennifer Brokaw for Joshua Brokaw, serving in the army; and Brady and Roberta Lowery for Jessie and Brandon Lowery, both serving in the navy.
Recognized for service to the city were senior center recreation monitor Erica Elias, 10 years; Police Officer Mark Howeth, 10 years; water department crew leader Aron Bressler, 15 years; and Police Officer Jose Villalobos, 10 years.
Two students, Giselle Martinez of Hartman Elementary School and Carla Rodriguez of Watkins Elementary School were recognized as Wylie Way students.
Appointed by the council to serve on various boards and commissions were, Animal Shelter Advisory, Shelia Patton; Construction Code, Bobbie Heath, Jr., Bryan Rogers, Brad Emerson, Zachary Herrera and Billy McClendon; Library, Mindy Ayers, Dorthy Brand, Shirley Burnett, Sandra Stone and Todd Abronowitz; Parks and Recreation, Daniel Chesnut, Jeff Harris and Bobby Kinser;
Parks and Recreation 4B, John Ward, Daniel Chesnut, Jeff Harris, Diane Culver and Keith Stephens; Planning and Zoning, George Ellington, Dennis Larson, Mike McCrossin and Jerry Stiller; Public Arts, Anita Jones, Michelle Pugh, Randy Points and Brooke Lopez; WEDC, Demond Dawkins and John Yeager; and Zoning Board of Adjustments, Linda Jourdan.