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August 24, 2013

Council set to take another look at budget

GREENVILLE — The Greenville City Council intends to take another look Tuesday at the proposed city budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

The Council is also scheduled Tuesday to vote on scheduling a public hearing and setting the proposed tax rate.

The proposed budget is the focus of a work session, scheduled for 5 p.m. Tuesday. The regular agenda begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday, during which the Council could officially propose a tax rate. Both meetings are at the Municipal Building, 2821 Washington Street.

The property tax rate in the City of Greenville would remain unchanged, and actually represents a slight decrease in overall property taxes, under the proposed fiscal year 2013/2014 budget proposed by City Manager Massoud Ebrahim.

It is a budget which is leaving several currently vacant positions unfilled and which is making up for a significant shortfall in property tax revenue.

The budget also includes an increase in the amount to be spent on maintaining city streets, as well as a 3 percent pay increase for city employees.

A new city budget and tax rate must be adopted before the start of the next fiscal year on October 1. The current City of Greenville budget is funded through a property tax rate of 69.9 cents per $100 valuation, unchanged from the previous fiscal year.

Ebrahim is calling for the city to maintain the tax rate in the coming budget. The rate would be below the effective tax rate, which would raise the same amount of money as in the current fiscal year, of 74.1 cents.

Ebrahim said the budget is balanced despite a decrease of more than $354,000 in revenue due to a decrease in the city’s taxable assessed value.

The budget calls for a little more than $20.9 million in expenditures, and $20.7 million in revenues. Ebrahim is proposing to take the difference from the fund balance.

But even though the property tax rate is below the effective tax rate, some homeowners will be paying a little more in taxes next year.

While the city saw its business property values decrease this year, home values actually rose. The average homeowner will see an increase of about $6.92 in taxes.

While sales tax rebate revenue is up for the year to date, Ebrahim said the city will have to send more than $2.7 million back to the Texas Comptroller’s Office during the next 30 years as a result of a recent ruling by the Texas Supreme Court. The payments to cost the City of Greenville more than $92,000 in revenue per year.

The budget calls for an increase in the amount spent on the annual maintenance program for local streets, from $900,000 this year to $1 million in the coming year.

In preparing the budget, Ebrahim said he cut almost $1.35 million in requests from department heads and has proposed leaving vacant all current open positions, pending evaluations of the positions.

Ebrahim is also calling for cutting the $60,000 contract with the Texas Department of Transportation for additional mowing and transferring and was transferring the $40,000 in costs for lot abatement mowing from the general fund to the solid waste fund.

The current schedule calls for the Council to conduct the annual public hearing and tax rate on the budget during the September 10 meeting.

As there is not a tax increase as part of the current budget, the Council is not required to conduct a second public hearing on the budget and tax rate, although Mayor Steve Reid said it might be prudent for the Council to conduct a special meeting on the budget on September 17.

The Council is scheduled to vote to adopt the budget and tax rate on September 24.

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