By Moses Leos III
Despite several key Capital Improvement Projects (CIP) on the books, Buda anticipates to be $1.4 million in the black for the 2014-15 Fiscal Year.
However, with some of the money restricted from use, city manager Kenneth Williams stresses the numbers aren’t solid at this point.
“Those surpluses are misleading,” Williams said. “What looks like a surplus can only be spent on certain things.”
Buda’s revenue increase is a far cry from a year previous, where the city faced a roughly $800,000 deficit during initial budget projections.
Buda was forced to increase property tax rates to .29 cents per $100 evaluation to make up the shortfall.
According to Williams, Buda does not anticipate the city’s property tax rate to increase next fiscal year.
He credited the economic upturn, which is expected to keep the city out of a financial quagmire.
“We are in a stronger financial position than we were last year,” he said
CIP items are projected to cost Buda the most in 2014-’15. Wastewater projects within the CIP drew the largest price tag – $5.9 million. That includes a $1.8 million expense to design the expansion of the downtown wastewater treatment plant.
Other projects include the construction of the Garlic Creek Lift Station and Force Main, along with replacing clay pipes in the downtown area and the construction of the Bradfield Trails project. The total cost of the projects would put the city in the red by $8.3 million.
While initial projects place Buda in the red when it comes to the CIP, Williams said it “won’t be a true deficit.” It stems from several projects that received funding from previous years, but will not be counted into the 2014-’15 budget cycle.
“All CIP projects will be funded,” Williams said.
Several other components will be discussed in the budget, including requests from non-profit organizations. Six non-profits have petitioned for assistance, totaling $43,854. Last year, Buda allocated only $25,000 to non-profits for assistance.
In addition, the city projects a cost of $4.6 million in salaries, with $1.08 million going to seven new positions, three in the police department.
However, Buda has put on hold repairs to the city’s transportation van for seniors. A focus will be placed on a volunteer-based senior transportation program.
“It’s something we are trying to mitigate,” Mayor Todd Ruge said. “We are trying to figure out what the city needs to do.”
While the budget process is still ongoing, Ruge said he was pleased to see the city’s early budget projections where they are.
“We are very conservative in our spending,” he said. “We have been ‘putting away for a rainy day.’ We can now do projects we put away in the past”
The Buda Bond
With the deadline for calling the Buda bond looming, Gap Strategies on Thursday released its first look at how much the initiative could cost.
According to Jeff Barton, Principle at Gap Strategies, a “core package” of priority projects – compiled by Gap and the Buda Bond Advisory Committee – could cost $49.6 million. An additional “on-the-cusp” list of various projects would add a $10 million expense.
Despite the high figures, Barton said there was “very little overt criticism” at a June 19 public input meeting.
“We asked the whole group if there was anyone that was flat out opposed [to the figures],” Barton said. “No one raised their hand.”
The high price tag didn’t come as a shock to Mayor Todd Ruge.
While the city council placed a $40 million threshold, Ruge understood many potential bond projects are necessary.
Ultimately, the city council will have final say into what goes into the bond.
“There are still things we are working out,” Ruge said. “We are not sure what’s going to be in the bond. It’s high, but it’s something we are going to work out.”
While many agreed on the price tag, not everyone had the same idea on what should go in it, and how the bond should be presented.
Barton said “back-and-forth” discussions took place on whether Buda should present the option as single or separate package.
In addition, many gave feedback on the “Core” and “On the Cusp” ideas. Many had had “mixed reviews” toward the On the Cusp, according to Barton.
But one consensus was clear — drainage and road projects were a priority.
“There was not much debate at all about the drainage projects or the core road projects,” Barton said.
Tax implications of bond were also a concern for attendees.
With the bond counsel using growth estimates to come up with tax implications, Ruge felt the area’s rapid growth could drive numbers down.
Barton felt the public input meeting helped shed light on what the public is expecting from the bond.
“There were good suggestions that other people didn’t think about,” Barton said. “The committee will look at that and we’ll think about what was said.”
Gap plans to present their findings to the Buda city council on July 1.
For more information on the Buda bond, visit www.buildingbuda.com.
Transportation & Downtown $7,033,589
Parks & Trails $7,000,000
On the cusp