tax collection

Another big topic we discussed at our annual retreat is our budget strategy for the upcoming fiscal year. Revenue for the current fiscal year continues to be strong. As of the end of January, ad valorem property tax receipts are just over 100% of budget. Sales tax receipts through the end of December (half the fiscal year, which does not include the full impact of Christmas) are at 56.5% of budget. On the expense side, most line items are on track with our budget.

As a result of this, we are looking at a pretty healthy surplus when we close out the fiscal year at the end of June. Part of our strategy for the current fiscal year was to take a fairly conservative approach to the budget, and if the economy bounced back faster than anticipated, we would use some of the resulting surplus on outstanding capital projects.

So, staff presented four options for prioritization for the current year. Those were the Splash Pad, Skate Park, Dog Park, and the next phase of improvements to Rocky Branch Park. After some discussion, we decided to prioritize the Skate Park and the Rocky Branch Park improvements, which together will consume roughly $220k of this year’s surplus.

Looking ahead to next year, capital projects will likely continue to be a focus. Given how strong our revenues have been and continue to be, I suggested that we, as a Council, take a look at our property taxes to determine if we need to make any adjustments to the tax rate. The City has seen very positive growth in both our tax base and our sales tax collections over the last few years, so I think this may create an opportunity for us to implement a small cut to the tax rate while still accomplishing the goals that we have for the City. Prudence would suggest that whatever we do on that front should be measured, and the rest of the Council agreed to take a look at this at an upcoming workshop. So, we will take a look at this over the next few weeks as we get into building the budget for next year.

trash truck

The City’s contract with WastePro expires at the end of this fiscal year, so one of the things we talked about at our retreat are our options for waste and recycling collection going forward. To continue receiving the services that we currently have (garbage, recycling, bulk waste, yard waste, and leaf collection), pricing for a new contract is significantly higher than what we currently pay (approx. $300k-$400k more per year than what we pay now). So, we’re looking at our options.

One of the largest cost drivers is the cost of yard waste and leaf collection. It’s also worth noting that this is also the service that tends to generate the most complaints (of leaves not being picked up, etc.). So, one of the options we are exploring is taking that service in-house, and the biggest expense involved in that is the purchase of three vacuum trucks and a claw truck for about $762k. Landfill fees would also be about $30k per year. The good news is that the trucks last anywhere from 5-7 years, and it sounds like our Public Works staff will be able to work through the logistical challenges of driving the trucks.

I think this deal makes sense, as we will likely be able to recoup the cost of the trucks in about 2.5 years and, this will also give us more control over the quality of the service provided for yard waste and leaf collection. I also suggested that we look into the feasibility of investing in some mulching equipment that we could use to grind up the yard waste we collect to either sell it back to the public or use it as part of the City’s landscaping around town. Assuming it makes financial sense to do so, I think this would be a great way to reuse waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.


We had a very productive retreat this past weekend, reviewing our progress over the past year and planning for the future. We covered a lot of ground, so I’ll just hit the highlights in this post. Over the next week or so, I’ll go more in-depth with individual posts on some of the bigger topics.

Successes for 2020 include:

-Progress on several long-standing capital projects, including the Rec Center, new city bus, Skateboard Park, CityWorks, Sidewalks, and a new irrigation system for the planters downtown

-Updates to the Land Development Code: increasing side setbacks, requiring apartment development by conditional rezoning only, the Tree Protection Ordinance, and enhanced community engagement (new/bigger rezoning signs, additional requirements for community meetings, etc.)

-A new website and enhanced land development project pages

-Livestreaming of council meetings and agenda packets made available to the public

-COVID Response: Small business emergency loans, Al Fresco Dining, Keep the Lights On Campaign, etc.

Looking ahead, we also talked about the new Solid Waste Services contract (which expires this year), Leaf Collection, new zoning for the Wilkinson Blvd corridor in anticipation of the light rail (as well as general growth concerns), and the budget for next year.

I will post separately on the budget, but the City is in very solid financial shape and, we appear set to have another surplus at the end of this fiscal year (assuming current trends continue). There are many municipalities around the state that are not so fortunate (and are having to figure out how to keep their lights on), and I believe the way everyone in this City pulled together this year has a lot to do with the numbers we are seeing.

I’ll post more in the coming days, but if there’s anything in particular you have a question about, feel free to leave a comment below.