As property values continue to rise, the city of Seguin’s tax rate isn’t looking like it is expected to change for this upcoming budget.

The 2019-2020 city budget was introduced to Seguin City Council Tuesday night by proposing a property tax rate of $.5412 — the same rate that’s been in place for the last four years.

“With that tax rate and the increasing values, and our increased debt service requirements we’re looking at increases in our (property tax) revenue about $474,329,” Seguin City Manager Doug Faseler said.

With maintaining to keep the current tax rate, it’s a $.0061 increase above the effective tax rate of $.5351, Seguin Director of Finance Susan Caddell said.

Revenue increases

With the increase of $474,329 in property tax revenue, there also was an increase in the taxable value of $99,251,755 or 4.7%, Caddell said.

“The average home in (fiscal year) ’19 was $159,149 and now the average home is $167,303,” Caddell said. “New property values are $53,099,853 and there’s still $115,135,907 of values under protest.”

Caddell added that if the taxable value of someone’s home did not increase then their taxes on the home are not expected to increase.

The right of way user fees also saw an increase in revenue by $158,917, which is based on the increased electric, water and sewer revenues. Both the property tax revenue and ROW user tax revenue make up about 61% of the general fund, Faseler said.

The electric revenue increased by $653,522; water revenue is looking at $828,850 and the sewer revenue rose by $813,853, Faseler said.

New staffing

In the proposed budget, the city would have the ability to add more positions in several departments, Faseler said.

In the upcoming year’s budget, there are several positions that the city is proposing to add including an evidence and forensic specialist, which is budgeted for $64,288.

“This is a critical role within the department and currently only one person is assigned to this area that, due to the nature of the work, must be strictly maintained to a controlled and secured environment,” the proposed budget report read. “Currently, there is no backup personnel to this area.”

If the new position was approved then the current evidence and forensic specialist is proposed to be made into an evidence and forensic specialist supervisor, the report said.

The D.A.R.E. program also could see a change with the proposal of reclassifying the D.A.R.E. officer position to a civilian position, which would be funded from the D.A.R.E. fund, Faseler said.

The savings made from the change in the D.A.R.E. officer would allow the opportunity to fund an additional detective position for $77,558 for the increase in caseload, Faseler said.

Other positions that the budget is proposing to change include making an animal services officer an animal services assistant supervisor; library assistant; landscape technician; auto technician II; code compliance officer; administrative technician; IT intern; making an equipment operator I to equipment operator II and hiring an engineering technician.

Many of the positions will help with the increased workload and the continued improvements toward the city, Faseler said.

The three-year SAFER grant, which was funded in fiscal 2018 for the addition of three firefighters, is coming to an end starting in February 2020. The city’s match is expected to increase from 25% to 65%, making the match $104,695.

Needed equipment

The general fund and utility fund operations “both have vehicles, equipment and technology that require replacement as part of a regular replacement program,” the report read.

Therefore, $593,500 is proposed from the general fund while $1,083,700 is from the utility fund, the report read.

Several equipment pieces listed in the proposed budget are still currently being funded under a lease-to-purchase agreement. Many of them are in their last months and years of payment.

“Several years ago, we bought quite a lot of equipment and we did it on lease-purchase arrangements so when you do that you’ve got that same payment every year for several years,” Faseler said.

The city is looking to add another lease-to-purchase item, Faseler said.

“We’re in need of replacing a street sweeper. They’re about a $250,000 item. We look at doing that through a lease-purchase requirement,” he said.

Caddell added that it would be cost-efficient for the city. 

“Not to get into too much detail about it, but this is a program where they actually provide the maintenance and everything on it. It’s somewhat similar to the police vehicles,” Caddell said.

Other proposed items are body armor ($10,400); 10 tasers ($11,000); 20 patrol rifles ($31,000); 20 rifle sound suppressors ($15,000) and PD evidence storage ($12,000), which are planned to be funded through grants and forfeiture funds.

The city also plans to cut the downtown loan program, which currently has $12,000, and use the money for beautification items in the downtown area, Faseler said.

Capital improvement projects

For the capital improvement projects listed within the proposed budget, many of them are currently underway such as the wayfinding signage and document capture project. 

The document capture project was started this year, but funds need to be budgeted for the next several years. That includes $15,000 from the fiscal year ’20 budget and utility funds from the fiscal year ’20 budget, Faseler said.

Another project underway is the Walnut Springs Trail Phase II from Convent Street to Starcke Park, which is proposed to receive about $854,500 through certificates of obligation for the city’s match for construction, Faseler said.

Other projects for the proposed budget include adding trees to Manuel Castilla Park for $2,500; golf pro shop and course improvements for $1,570,000; a large animal play yard for Seguin Animal Services for $4,000; striping at the Seguin Public Library parking lot for $6,000 and an assessment on the Central Fire Station building for $22,000.

Occupancy tax funding

This year, the city received a request of $304,140 from 10 different organizations including Seguin Conservation Society, Mid-Texas Symphony, Teatro De Artes and the Fields of Huber Ranch, LLC.

However, the proposed budget is expected to fund $98,364, which is higher than the fiscal year 2019 ($88,615), and fiscal year 2018 ($85,930)amounts.

“I’d like to thank Councilwoman Mathis, Councilwoman Crabb and Chris Rangel and Andy (Quittner) and Rick (Cortes) for attending these long sessions that we’ve had dealing with the different civic organizations,” Caddell said. “Some of them were asking from anywhere from $5,000, $4,000 to $125,000, but we don’t have a big pot to divvy out. We also have our city departments to take care of.”

As for city funding requests, Caddell said the city is funding $772,616 ($145,980 is coming from the fund balance and interest earnings) toward the Seguin Coliseum, the Convention and Visitors Bureau, Sebastopol House, facade restoration grants, Seguin Events Complex and 1/1 of a 70-ton coliseum chiller.

Schedule 

City Council is scheduled to host a public meeting to vote to propose the tax rate at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Seguin City Council Chamber.

The first public hearing for the rate is at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 3 at the City Council Chambers while the second one is at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 10 at the City Council Chambers.

The first reading on the tax is at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 17 and the second reading is at 5:30 p.m. Sept. 24 — both at the council chambers.

Editor's Note: The story was edited to reflect that the budget is for the correct fiscal year.

Valerie Bustamante is a staff writer for the Seguin Gazette. You can e-mail her at valerie.bustamante@seguingazette.com .

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