CONNIE SWINNEY • STAFF WRITER
HORSESHOE BAY — With an eye on a water plant expansion project and keeping utility rates down, Horseshoe Bay city leaders have raised the tax rate a penny while approving an almost $15 million budget.
At their regular meeting Sept. 20, council members approved a 26-cent tax rate for the 2016-17 fiscal year along with the budget and the sale of $3.7 million in bonds.
The bump in the tax rate to 26 cents per $100 valuation would increase the taxpayer’s cost by approximately $50 per year on a home with an assessed value of $500,000. The city has a nearly $1.8 billion property value base.
The bulk of the bond package would pay for the expansion of the water plant for Horseshoe Bay West with about $1 million earmarked for the purchase of two fire trucks.
Officials say the budget also reflected a 4.9 percent increase in water and sewer rates.
“We did that to help defray the utility rate increase that we were looking at,” City Manager Stan Farmer said. “(The need for the utility rate increase is) tied to a bunch of things, which is other capital items … the nature of that business, that enterprise fund and other expenses.”
To minimize the rate hike, officials approved the property tax rate increase, which would raise approximately $178,000 in revenue.
“They were looking at a 9 percent (utility rate increase) and not going up a penny (on the tax rate),” Farmer said. “They decided to go up a penny and only go up 4.9 percent.”
Officials approved the additional funds that would be raised from the penny tax rate hike “to be transferred to the utility fund” to avoid the larger utility rate hike and help fund capital improvement projects.
The expansion of the water plant will involve increasing capacity from 1 million to 2 million gallons per day.
“It’s just demand in the western part of the community and growth,” Farmer said of Horseshoe Bay West, which comprises a third of the city.
Additional budget items approved were:
• standard salary and merit increases;
• and one new vehicle replacement for the Horseshoe Bay Police Department along with six body cameras, 12 in-vehicle cameras, and eight mobile radios.