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The city of Burnet could lower its property tax rate to $0.6131 per $100 valuation for the 2021-22 fiscal year — a half-cent decrease when compared to last year, officials said during the City Council meeting Tuesday, Aug. 10. 

A public hearing and first vote toward adopting the rate and overall budget is scheduled for the Aug. 24 meeting. A second and final vote is set for Sept. 10. 

“If (the property tax rate is) approved … it would result in an increase of about $160,000 in (Maintenance and Operating) for the general fund and $150,000 in (Interest and Sinking) for debt service,” Director of Finance Patricia Langford told councilors Tuesday. 

At this rate, the city will raise about $300,000 more in property tax revenue than last year because the property valuations increased to $46 million from $31 million last year.

“That’s the largest valuation increase we’ve ever had in one year,” City Manager David Vaughn said. “Last year was big. I believe it was about only $31 million, so about a 50 percent increase from last year.” 

The proposed budget anticipates net operating expenses sitting at roughly $12.4 million for the general fund, $9 million for electric, and $4 million for the water and wastewater fund. When combined, the funds have a net income (or surplus) of about $1.2 million. 

“We will have to do a complete run through (of the budget) once (Langford) gets July closed out and we have those numbers updated,” Vaughn said. “We’ll have to go through every single line item and have to recalculate it.” 

The budget also accounts for a 3 percent increase in sales-tax revenue, which Vaughn expects to be a conservative estimate. 

To remain competitive in the job market, the city will likely provide employees with a 3 percent pay increase. More than 10 new city positions have been budgeted into the upcoming fiscal year, including three part-time EMT positions, two street maintenance workers, and a senior accountant.  

The council also voted to approve adjusting health insurance coverage options for city employees. The adjustment will likely add about $20,000 to the budget. 

“Overall, there is enough room within the budget to offset the additional expense,” Vaughn said in a statement. 

A copy of the proposed budget is available online for public viewing. 

brigid@thepicayune.com