Sugar Land, TX News (July 24, 2014) - City Manager Allen Bogard presented his proposed fiscal year 2015 budget to City Council on July 22. The City’s fiscal year begins Oct. 1 and ends on Sept. 30, 2015.
Based on the priorities and needs identified by City Council through planning workshops beginning in March, the proposed budget totals $324.15 million. Capital projects such as a performing arts center, voter-approved parks projects, and street/drainage improvements represent a large share of the proposed budget. Of the total, $166.32 million is for operations, $144.35 million is for capital projects, and $13.48 million is for economic development.
The increase to the City’s operating budget and general fund is 3.8 percent and 4.6 percent, respectively. The proposed budget includes funding for several high priority City Council initiatives.
The following priorities are addressed in the operating budget:
- Eleven new firefighter/paramedics, two public safety dispatchers, and equipment for implementation of a fire-based ambulance transport system beginning January 2015 are included. The effort is the result of a strategic project to meet improved Advanced Life Support delivery standards that were identified by Dr. Joe Anzaldua, Sugar Land’s medical director.
- Funds are included for implementation of a public safety compensation study that will keep the City’s public safety positions competitive in the local market.
- Two new code enforcement inspectors will allow a more proactive approach to neighborhood code enforcement.
- An additional customer service representative will assist with utility billing calls and payments.
The capital improvement program includes funding for several significant projects:
- A 6,500 seat performing arts center to be completed in fall of 2016 will create cultural/entertainment activities, capital investment, new jobs, and educational opportunities. The facility will create unique destination activities attracting local and regional visitors. Based on voters’ approval of the financing tools in 2008, the project is funded from economic development sales tax, facility rent payments, participation from ACE SL, and hotel occupancy taxes. No general fund tax dollars are being spent on this project.
- In November 2013, voters approved park bond propositions totaling $31.5 million, including the development of 128 acres of parkland along the Brazos River with an adjacent festival site and a connecting network of nearly 10 miles of hike and bike trails and bridges. Funding in the proposed fiscal year 2015 budget includes phase one of Brazos River Park, grading and site work on the festival site and Imperial and First Colony trails.
- Continued emphasis on pavement and drainage improvements will include the widening of Dairy Ashford from U.S. Highway 90A to Stiles Road; the reconstruction of Lakefield Drive, Williams Trace and Austin Parkway; and drainage improvements in Sugar Creek and Covington Woods.
Preliminary budget estimates show that a 1 cent tax increase is needed to implement the portions of the voter-approved parks bond projects proposed in the 2015 budget. The bond election provided an opportunity for residents to choose whether to authorize property taxes to fund parks projects that were identified through years of community input.
The certified tax roll is due at the end of July, and the proposed tax rate will be discussed with the City Council at that time, with approval set for September.
There are no rate increases proposed to water, wastewater and surface water rates, which is consistent with the five-year forecast that has been shared with City Council in prior years. Costs for residential solid waste (i.e., trash, recycling, and green waste) service will increase 2.5 percent based on the City’s contract with Republic Waste. Beginning in January, rates will be $16.81 per month.
The budget also includes funding for an average 4 percent performance-based merit increase to eligible employees, effective January 2015.
To view the proposed budget and capital improvement program, visit the City’s website at www.sugarlandtx.gov/budget. The budget will be reviewed with City Council through a series of workshops beginning July 31 at Sugar Land City Hall, 2700 Town Center Boulevard North. Meeting agendas will be posted online at www.sugarlandtx.gov.