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City Council approves major capital investments, lower tax rate in FY2019 budget

Post Date:09/21/2018

City Council this week approved 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 — in its unanimous support of Keller’s Fiscal Year 2018-19 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 will also complement City Council’s approval earlier this year 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) will pay just over $1,431 this year in taxes to the city — the equivalent of $119.28 per month.

Highlights of the nearly $90.2 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 that bond proposal 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 $2.5 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); $160,000 in sidewalk repairs and construction and more.

Another nearly $8.4 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.

For a detailed look at the Fiscal Year 2018-19 Proposed Budget - and to find the approved budget in the near future once final edits are made - visit www.cityofkeller.com/budget. Questions may be directed to the Finance Department at 817-743-4026.