Some of those present at the meeting included Mayor Darren Rozell, all City Council members with the exception of Robbie Powers, EDC Director Kim Buttram, City Manager Brian Brooks, Assistant City Manager Gina Nash, Parks Director Richard Curry, Public Works Director Chris Metz, Fire Chief Rick Townsend, and Police Chief Rick Barnes.
The beginning cash budget for FY 2013 is estimated to be $2,017,408.00. In FY 2012 that amount was $1,597,463.00. The operation funding reserve, aka “Rainy Day Fund” is at $2,300,000.00 with an additional $313,000.00 planned to be added to the fund in FY 2013.
Key budget discussions included:
A 4% step increase raise to sworn police officers and firefighters with a 1% cost of living adjustment for all employees. A 3% merit increase for non-step employees is also being considered, and the council debated conducting a compensation plan study. The raises would begin on October 1, 2012 and the total cost for raises and the study is estimated at just over $303,000.00.
The proposed FY 2013 budget includes an increase of $0.005922 per $100 valuation for property owners. That would bring the city property tax rate to just under $0.75 for every $100 in property value. This increase would amount to approximately $11 a year for homes valued at $200,000.00. The rate increase was hotly debated at the workshop and City Manager Brian Brooks explained that it is necessary to cover the increased debt service requirement. The half-cent increase in property tax would result in a 5% increase to the budget.
The city anticipates a 5% increase in sales tax revenue for FY 2013 but a possibility of up to a 15% increase in employee health care costs.
The North Texas Municipal Water District has told the city they intend to impose a 15% increase in cost for water purchases and a 20% increase for sewer and refuse costs. If this occurs, the city will pass the increase in costs to the users.
New capital improvement projects for FY 2013 include a quiet zone installation at downtown railroad crossings The city needs to implement all safety measures required by the Federal Railroad Administration in order to obtain a Quiet Zone status. 26 trains a day come through Forney and if the official Quiet Zone is in place, trains would not need to blow their horns as they come through the intersections in downtown.
Other capital improvements would include fixing the sewer lines at Brooks and College, as well as Aimee Street and McGraw Street. The city intends to spend $1 million to purchase Mulberry Park, and an additional $100,000.00 to remodel City Hall. The cost of all capital improvements is estimated at $1,970,140.00.
Department expenditures for FY 2013 shows that the police department will account for 29% of the general fund, the fire department will use 17%, with the third largest amount being the Parks Department at 9%.
CM Brian Brooks concluded the two and a half hour workshop by saying, “It's not the end conversation on the budget.” The City Council will have a public discussion about the proposed budget at the City Council meeting on Tuesday, Sept 4, 2012 at City Hall at 6:30 p.m.