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Proposed FY 2019 budget includes major capital investments, lower tax rate

Post Date:08/15/2018

City Council will soon be considering investments in the city’s roads, public safety, park system and more — as well as a fifth cut to the tax rate in as many years — following the filing of Keller’s Fiscal Year 2018-19 Proposed Budget.

“This budget continues our tradition of conservative fiscal management paired with a commitment to our core values of excellence, integrity, service, creativity and communication," City Manager Mark Hafner said. “It is not merely made up of numbers, but is an expression of our council’s vision, and our citizens’ desires, values and priorities.” 

This year’s plans will be accomplished with a fifth consecutive cut to the tax rate — a nearly 1.5-cent reduction — bringing Keller’s municipal tax rate to the lowest it has been in more than 20 years at $0.41325 per $100 of taxable value.

The new rate would also complement City Council’s recent approval to raise Keller’s homestead exemption from 8 percent to 10 percent, which means homeowners will see their city taxes based upon only 90 percent of their valuation. With the increased exemption and the lowered tax rate, the average Keller homeowner (whose house is valued at $346,378) would pay $1,431 this year in city taxes — the equivalent of $119.25 per month.

Highlights of the $89.95 million budget include a nearly $2.5 million expansion of Overton Ridge Park in northwest Keller, a $250,000 investment in extending the trail system, construction of a second bathroom facility at Bear Creek Park, and the continuation of our Park Capital Replacement Program that sets aside funds for future repairs and replacements of assets like playgrounds and pavilions. The budget also earmarks $1.6 million in cash to jumpstart work on the new Senior Activities Center if plans for the project are approved by voters in November. 

Other portions of the budget provide important upgrades to city streets and sidewalks, including $2 million to reconstruct Johnson Road between Rufe Snow Drive and Keller-Smithfield Road, improve drainage in the area and build a sidewalk along the stretch; more than $1.6 million in additional street maintenance efforts citywide; construction of a roundabout to improve flow and capacity at the Bear Creek Parkway/Whitley Road intersection ($925,000); traffic signals at the northern Bear Creek Parkway/Keller-Smithfield "T" intersection ($250,000); and $160,000 in sidewalk repairs and construction.

Another $8.6 million will go toward critical water infrastructure projects, most notably the city's replacement of the Alta Vista Pump Station now more than 40 years old and the construction of a new water transmission main.

In the area of public safety, this year's budget provides for the rollout of body cameras for the Keller Police Department, police fleet replacements, critical EMS equipment, replacement of a fire pumper and more. It also includes a proposed 4 percent market adjustment for applicable police and fire personnel aimed at keeping salaries competitive with our benchmark cities and well as the continuation of the annual “step” plan reintroduced last year at a sustainable 2 percent. Civilian employees would see a 1.5 percent market adjustment this year as well as a 2 percent merit increase if eligible.

A special budget workshop has been scheduled for Tuesday, Aug. 28, and City Council will hold public hearings on the budget and tax rate before voting on them at the regular Tuesday, Sept. 18 meeting. For a detailed look at the Fiscal Year 2018-19 Proposed Budget, visit www.cityofkeller.com/budget. Questions may be directed to the Finance Department at 817-743-4026.

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