by VERONICA GORDON
Buda city leaders presented their department budget goals for the fiscal year 2012-13 budget last week at a city council retreat in a Hampton Inn meeting room.
City council members pondered proposals from Parks and Recreation, Tourism and Planning and Engineering, to name a few.
Among the budget concerns for the council were the issues of possibly raising water and wastewater rates and the need for additional police officers.
Projected revenue for FY 2012-13 is estimated to be $12.8 million. With projected total expenses of about $14.5 million.
Police Chief Bo Kidd presented the council with his department’s budget needs that include adding four officers to his staff at a cost of about $193,948.
The department would also need two vehicles at a cost of about $102,000.
Kidd also asked the council to consider allowing the department to add salary steps that would help retain officers and attract experienced personnel.
“I can definitely support the need for more officers,” said City Manager Kenneth Williams. “We do have concerns about one officer being on patrol without any backup.”
The budget also addresses a need for better benefits to be offered for city employees.
City staff conducted a salary survey that found many employees are not taking advantage of the health insurance plan for their spouses or dependents.
“That tells me that our plan is too expensive,” said City Finance Manager Sidonna Foust. “We want to try to cover at least half of the cost for dependents.”
Williams also suggested the city hire a Human Resources manager.
“We’re growing as a city and we need a professional person to handle not just benefits, but risk management as well,” Williams said.
The cost for the HR manager would be $54,057. Salaries and benefits make up 54 percent of the general fund expenses of the proposed budget.
Grady Reed, of the consulting firm HDR Engineering presented council members with a recommended rate increase for water and wastewater.
“A rate increase would allow you to cash fund projects without using your reserves,” Reed said. “But you might want to consider drawing down your reserves at some point so residents don’t question why rates go up when you’re sitting on a $10 million fund balance.”
The capital improvement projects for both water and wastewater are the primary reason for the needed rate adjustments, Reed explained.
“Should growth slow down, larger rate increases would be needed, unless the CIP is revised,” he added.
The notion of raising water and wastewater rates by 4 and 5 percent, respectively, seemed a bit high for some council members.
“We’re charging too much,” Councilmember Bobby Lane said.
The council asked to see several proposals with lower rate increases.
Other projects included in the proposed budget include improvements to the Buda Public Library, various park improvements and an additional planner for the planning and engineering department.
Mayor Sarah Mangham commended the city manager and staff on the proposed budget.
“I’m happy that we are taking care of public safety in this proposed budget,” Mangham said. “You all did a bang-up job and you really listened to the council.”
Councilmember Cathy Chilcote said she was impressed with the presentations.
“I feel a lot better today than at our last workshop,” Chilcote said. “But we still need to have more dialog about the water rate increase. That has to be addressed.”
Williams is expected to present a finalized budget to the council by Aug. 3. The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.
- Buda council adopts budget, increases tax rate, utilities 09/19/2012
- Buda sets tax rate hearings 08/9/2012
- The bills are due for Kyle 07/20/2011