City officials are faithfully conservative when projecting budget revenues, but they were hoping for stronger appraisal gains in the tax rolls that the Tarrant Appraisal District published Friday.Mansfield’s property value gain of 5.1 percent on the May preliminary tax rolls dipped to 4.3 percent on the certified rolls, the updated appraisals that cities and schools use to build their annual budgets. The city of Mansfield’s taxable value increased by $184.8 million, to $4.5 billion.City Manager Clayton Chandler said the dip from the preliminary rolls in May amounts to about a $300,000 drop in budget revenues. But even more frustrating was the fall from the earlier estimated gains of about 9 percent to 12 percent in April.“That’s very disappointing,” Chandler said. The 4.3 percent gain “is certainly better than what other cities are experiencing. However, we thought it was going to be significantly better.”Mansfield’s gain was nearly twice the 2.4 percent average for Tarrant County, which includes appraisals of cities and school districts.The Mansfield school district’s value increase by $218.5 million, or 2.4 percent, to $9.2 billion.On Monday, Mansfield school officials weren’t ready to discuss budget implications. “We just need more time to evaluate the information and see how that impacts the budget for the 2013-14 school year,” said spokesman Richie Escovedo. “We’ll have budget meetings and work shops in August.”The cities of Fort Worth and Arlington had gains of 2.6 percent and 2 percent, respectively. The Fort Worth and Arlington school districts gained 2.2 percent and 3.9 percent.About half of the city of Mansfield’s improvement resulted from new construction -- $42.9 million in residential and $48.9 million in commercial, said Finance Director Peter Phillis.“It says the city is continuing to grow in a balanced way,” he added.The remainder of the city’s tax-base increase is due to increases in property values, Phillis said, calling it evidence of “the fundamental improvement of the economy here.”Despite the slight revenue drop for the city, Chandler vowed that planned public safety measures would make it in to the proposed 2013-14 budget that he’ll present to the City Council next month. Those include the expansion of the police dispatch center, hiring of more dispatchers and purchasing of a new ambulance and fire ladder truck.Also, plans to establish a street-repair strike force at a cost of $300,000 – “all they would do is keep up with repair orders and maintain the streets,” Chandler said – likely will remain a priority.“We’re committed to that,” he said. “We just have too many back orders. We’ll have to cut someplace else.”That place could be the more recent concept of creating a “right-of-way crew” to focus on picking up trash and grooming medians and street sides, he said. Regular maintenance on those areas has generated a lot of compliments, he said, and that approach may have to continue.Chandler said he wanted to add some police officers, “but we may have to defer that another year and just see where we are.”“We’re just going to look things over (this) week and see where we need to make adjustments,” he said.
Robert Cadwallader, 817-390-7641 Twitter: @Kaddmann