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Preliminary Granite Shoals budget predicts increases in city revenue, salaries

Granite Shoals Fire Chief Tim Campbell

Fire Chief Tim Campbell walks the Granite Shoals City Council through a portion of the preliminary 2022-23 budget during a special meeting on Thursday, July 14. Staff photo by Dakota Morrissiey

Staffing issues, taxes, and property values highlighted the Granite Shoals City Council’s preliminary budget during a special meeting Thursday, July 14.

Interim City Manager Peggy Smith, Police Chief Gary Boshears, and Fire Chief Tim Campbell walked the council through the preliminary 2022-23 fiscal year budget, which included a predicted $571,351 property tax revenue increase over the current budget.

This expected increase is likely due to overall higher property evaluation for the city of Granite Shoals.

In the 2021-22 fiscal year, the total for appraised property values within the city was $626 million, but city staff anticipate that number will come in at about $746 million for the 2022-23 fiscal year. This total was based on preliminary appraisals of Granite Shoals property values by the Burnet Central Appraisal District.

The appraisal district has until July 25 to provide the final number.

Smith and Boshears attributed the expected property value increase on new construction and an overall rise in real estate values.

Councilor Phil Ort expressed concern for his constituents regarding an overall increase in the amount they’d have to pay in taxes.

“I’m against raising taxes,” he said.

Granite Shoals raises revenues through property taxes and sales taxes. The city property tax rate of 59.86 cents per $100 valuation hasn’t been raised from last year. 

Councilor Ron Munos responded to Ort, clarifying that there is a difference between raising the tax rate and raising taxes.

“I don’t think we have anybody championing a tax rate increase,” Munos said.

However, the amount a property owner pays in property taxes is based both on the tax rate and their property’s appraised value. 

If the appraised value goes up, even if the tax rate stays the same, the property owner could see a higher property tax bill.

The preliminary 2022-23 fiscal year budget also included a 7 percent salary increase for city employees.

“We’re trying to stay competitive and be able to hire and retain people,” Boshears said.

According to Boshears and Smith, the city of Burnet and Burnet County are proposing 10 percent salary increases for their employees. 

As an example of staffing issues, Smith pointed to the city’s parks and streets departments. Fully staffed, the departments should have five employees each, but the parks department is working with two full-time employees and the streets department has four.

According to Shorty Corley, Granite Shoals superintendent of Parks and Streets, crew members routinely switch from streets to parks work in order to keep up with the workload, leading to delays on projects and maintenance.

“Our staff is run hard,” Corley said.

The raises also would help Granite Shoals employees with a rise in cost of living.

“Inflation is at 6 percent. We expect that to go up,” Smith said. “Our folks need to be able to buy groceries like everybody else.”

The preliminary budget proposes salary increases across the board with the expected increase in revenues covering the costs.

“Our job is not to be for profit, but you still like to cover all of your expenses with your revenue,” Smith said.

The Granite Shoals City Council will meet again on July 28 at 6 p.m. at City Hall, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road, to discuss the city budget using the certified figures from the Burnet Central Appraisal District.

dakota@thepicayune.com