Denton City Council set to adopt budget tonight

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The Denton City Council is scheduled to adopt a new city budget tonight — one that holds the line on the property tax rate for this year but includes utility rate increases for city customers next year.

The city has already held the two public hearings required by law on the tax rate, although no one spoke at either hearing. While there is no public hearing scheduled tonight, the council typically accepts requests from the public to speak on agenda items.

The meeting is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall, 215 E. McKinney St.

It will take five votes in all for the council to move the $825.96 million package forward for the 2013-14 fiscal year. The first vote is expected to set the property tax rate at 68.795 cents per $100 valuation, the same rate assessed in 2012-13.

For the average Denton homeowner, that means a city tax bill of about $1,083, slightly higher than last year and an increase that officials have attributed to higher property values.

The next three votes approve the property tax roll, adopt the budget and ratify it. Then, the City Council will take up more than 20 separate items as a consent measure, several of which will set utility rates.

The average Denton household is expected to pay $232.71 per month for electric, water, sewer and trash services, up from $226 per month this year, city staff said.

The other budget consent items take up park and library fees; gas well inspection and road remediation fees; as well as a host of computer, software and telecommunications service agreements.

The 2013-14 budget expenditures include new spending and see the city beginning to spend down the reserve fund balance. At previous council meetings, the staff has provided a five-year forecast that shows spending from the general fund outpacing revenue and tapping those reserves by about $2 million per year until the general fund balance is reduced and represents about 13.2 percent of expenditures in 2017-18.

The budget includes nearly 48 new hires, including 21 new employees for Denton Municipal Electric, as well as step, merit and equity pay raises for employees. The city expects to pay about 6 percent more for health insurance while employee contributions are expected to increase 5 percent to 10 percent.

City officials continue to plan for a one-cent property tax increase in 2014-15 that would add another $16 to the average homeowner’s tax bill. If the City Council agrees to additional bond programs to overhaul city fire stations, rebuild more streets and provide for other major capital improvements, that could bring another one-cent increase in 2015. That second increase would put Denton over 70 cents per $100 valuation, which is among the highest tax rates of Denton County cities.

Currently, The Colony and Pilot Point assess 68 cents per $100 valuation and Lake Dallas, 71 cents.

PEGGY HEINKEL-WOLFE can be reached at 940-566-6881 and via Twitter at @phwolfeDRC.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

Property taxes to be collected from Denton taxpayers in 2013-14: $48,022,417

Amount for general fund: $33,056,849

Amount for general obligation debt: $14,965,568

Amount for downtown tax-increment finance district: $116,782


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