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Lubbock City Council Presented With First Draft of 2013-14 Tax Rate & Budget

Cole Shooter, KFYO.com

At their meeting Thursday evening, the Lubbock City Council saw City staff’s first draft of the 2013-14 budget.

The 2013-14 proposed tax rate is 50.441 cents per $100 home valuation, an increase of 1.23 cents from the 2012 tax rate of 49.211 cents per $100 of home value.

For a home valued at $100,000, this would cause an increase of about $12.30 on the homeowner’s annual property taxes.

Of the proposed 50.441 cent tax rate, 38.850 cents is the operation and maintenance rate, 11.654 cents would go to the interest and sinking fund rate, and 2.937 cents per $100 valuation would go to economic development. The economic development rate is proposed to remain the same from 2012.

Overall, Lubbock’s total net taxable value for properties is $13.5 billion, and the City’s anticipated levy amount is $63.72 million.

The City of Lubbock’s total funding sources for the 2013-14 budget are estimated to be at $682.5 million, an increase of $31.7 million.

The City’s total estimated budget is anticipated to be $671.5 million, an increase of $26 million.

Some of the drivers for the budget increase includes a three percent raise for all full-time City employees, except for Lubbock Power & Light; increases in fuel costs, electric utility cost, software and hardware maintenance agreements, communication systems, and computer replacements.

Cole Shooter, KFYO.com

LP&L board recommended raises of 2.9 percent for trade employees and an average raise of 3.65 percent for non-trade employees.

Further drivers for the budget increase include more cash-funded capital projects and equipment, and the Affordable Care Act, also called Obamacare.

Under the Affordable Care Act, there will be a $63 per person reinsurance fee and $2 per person for Patient Centered Outcomes Research Institute.

Thirty-nine new positions are also proposed under the upcoming budget, including 16 positions for fire, five for Lubbock Police, 14 for LP&L, and one new position each for Fiscal Policy, Solid Waste, Storm Water, and Water.

Cheryl Brock, the City’s budget director, also said that an ongoing decrease in grant funds also causes the budget increase.

Brock says that the City will lose nearly $143,000 in Community Development grants, almost $97,000 in Public Health STD grants, and more than $267,000 from the Emergency Management Metropolitan Medical Response System grant.

In the City’s general fund, the total revenue is anticipated to be $150.6 million, an increase of $7.8 million. Of that, property taxes are proposed to make up $45.3 million, an increase of $1.5 million. Sales tax is expected to add $58.2 million, an increase of $5.2 million, and Franchise fees are expected to add $4.9 million to the general fund, a decrease of $300,000.

Total expenditures out of the general fund are proposed to be $158.3 million, an increase of $14.2 million over last year. Increases in expenditures include $4.7 million in compensation, a pension payment increase of $200,000 due to the proposed pay increases for employees and $6.3 million in transfer of cash to the City’s capital program.

Some of the cash-funded capital projects include $4.2 million to begin renovations of 14 facilities reviewed in February of 2013, with community centers and senior centers being the priority; $450,000 in major repairs at fire stations; $330,000 for the design of the new Fire Station No. 1; nearly $358,000 for park pavilions, and additional funding of more than $466,000 for the renovation of the Landwer House, located in the Buddy Holly Recreation Area.

Proposed storm water fees are also set to increase. Residential storm water fees will increase from $14 to $18, and non-residential from $92.92 to $119.47, a $26.55 increase.

Wastewater fees will not see a base rate increase, but are expected to increase 22 cents in the volume rate, raising the rate to $2.47.

The Council will hold budget work sessions at 1 p.m. on July 23rd and August 1st. The City must publish the effective tax/rollback rates and other items by August 7th.

The group will discuss and vote on the proposed tax rate at their regular meeting on August 8th.

Public hearings on the tax rate and budget will be held at Council meetings at City Hall on August 22nd and August 29th.

The last day for the Council to adopt the 2013 tax rate is September 30th, or no later than the 60th day after the chief appraiser certifies the appraisal roll to the City.

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