By Moses Leos III
The possibility of a seven-cent increase in Kyle’s ad valorem tax rate is part and parcel for the $30 million road bonds issued in 2014. The increase would mark the first time Kyle’s property tax rates surpass .60 cents since the early 1990s.
That increase passed the first hurdle on Aug. 1. By a 7-0 vote in a special called meeting, the Kyle City Council kept the proposed tax rate for the fiscal year 2016 proposed budget at .6146 cents per $100 valuation.
It would raise ad valorem tax rates by 14 percent from fiscal year 2015.
The city’s tax rate increase is derived from a nearly seven-cent spike in the city’s interest and sinking (I&S) rate, which covers the city’s debt service. Kyle currently has about $130.2 million in debt, which includes principal and interest. Kyle Director of Finance Perwez Moheet said the city took advantage of a “strong bond market” and the increased valuation of the community to limit the rate increase.
The city is projecting a 29.6 percent increase in sales tax revenue and 18 percent increase in property tax revenue in 2016. Upon approval of the road bonds in 2013, Moheet said the ad valorem tax rate increase could have been as high as $.22 cents.
Moheet lauded city staff on Saturday on the sale of the city’s $30 million GO Bond, saying it was done “at the right time.”
Kyle’s proposed tax rate increase will go toward funding the city’s proposed $78.8 million budget for 2016. Under the proposed budget, Kyle residents would not see an increase in water or wastewater rates.
Driving the budget will be roughly $17 million in water and wastewater expenditures. That includes the acquisition of the city’s wastewater treatment plant from Aqua Operations, along with the possibility of an expansion of the plant. The expansion, calculated at $5.3 million, would increase the city’s WWTP to 4.5 million gallons per day.
Kyle Mayor Todd Webster said improving wastewater infrastructure in the city is something the city needed to address. While he praised Moheet for “seeing” the upgrades coming and saving for it, he said not improving wastewater infrastructure could affect development opportunities in the future.
“If we don’t address those things, it’s the thing that will hem us in,” Webster said. “Not having wastewater is the thing that’s preventing us from not getting a manufacturing [employer]or landing that next big project.”
An additional 22.5 new hires are proposed in the next fiscal year across all departments. Included are four new Kyle Police patrol officer positions, four new part-time telecommunications specialist for the Kyle Dispatch center, and a new warrant officer.
Kyle Police Chief Jeff Barnett said it was “clear to the citizens” the city needs more officers. While there will be a training period, Barnett said the new officers will help increase the department’s presence in neighborhoods.
“Too often our officers are going from one call to the next, and not having an opportunity to patrol neighborhoods and actively look for violations, or an opportunity to engage with the public,” Barnett said.
The warrant officer would help collect about $5 million in delinquent court costs. The new telecommunications positions are meant to relieve the two dispatchers who have seen calls for service steadily rise.
Improving a perceived lack of service to citizens is the city’s goal with the new hires. Kyle City Manager Scott Sellers said Saturday the city has a “severe lack of service delivery to what citizens expect us to provide.”
He said the new hires allow Kyle to “catch up” to meet the demand of citizens.
“This is a significant beefing up of our operations in general,” Webster said.