North Richland Hills looks at pay raises, repairing streets

Posted Sunday, Aug. 25, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
If you go Residents can comment on the budget plan at a public hearing tonight in the council chambers at City Hall, 7301 NE Loop 820. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

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Increasing spending to give employees a raise and repair streets, while not boosting the tax rate, are part of the proposed city budget that the City Council will vote on.

City Manager Mark Hindman’s budget for the year that starts Oct. 1 calls for a 3.1 percent bump in spending for day-to-day operations, from $40.7 million to $42 million. The budget for major construction projects would go up about 13 percent, from $22 million to $25 million.

At the same time, Hindman is not seeking another boost in the tax rate after doing so last year, the first time in 19 years, when the rate went up 4 cents. The city can maintain the city’s property tax rate at 61 cents per $100 of assessed property value largely because of expected increases in revenue from property and sales taxes, officials said. The city of 64,000 continues to grow.

That doesn’t mean that residents will see their property tax bill go down.

Residents could still get a higher property tax bill, depending on whether their home’s value increased. The net taxable value for the average North Richland Hills home increased from $122,598 in July 2012 to $125,603 in July 2013, though the average North Richland Hills home could sell for about $154,000, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District.

Residents can comment on the spending plan at a public hearing tonight in the council chambers at City Hall, 7301 NE Loop 820. The meeting starts at 7 p.m.

The council is expected to vote on the budget Sept. 9.

Last year, the council increased the tax rate primarily to pay for the estimated $70 million City Hall complex, expected to open in December 2015. Residents approved $48 million in bonds for the project in a May 2012 election, which the city is now paying off.

Highlights of the proposed budget include:

• Sales tax revenue is projected to increase 4 percent next fiscal year.

• City employees would receive a 2 percent raise at a cost of $414,222, with the option that the council could add 1 percentage point for a total 3 percent. Hindman said he wants to ensure that city salaries remain competitive.

• City employee healthcare premiums would increase 4 percent and could go higher. The city would cover any costs above that. Hindman said the city might have to revisit that commitment if healthcare costs are significantly higher.

• The city would hire a gas well inspector at a cost of about $100,000, with roughly $70,000 for his salary, to monitor the increasing number of gas wells.

• The city would also buy an ambulance and its equipment at a cost of $316,609.

• Road projects include $1.49 million to realign and rebuild Smithfield Road from Mid-Cities to Davis boulevards. Smithfield would intersect Davis at Bridge Street instead of near the post office. That intersection has created dangerous bottlenecks during rush hour.

• An additional $1 million would be spent rebuilding Jennings Drive from Jerrie Jo Drive to Boulevard 26. The small Dude Court would be part of the project. An additional $749,976 would cover park improvements, including replacing the playground and tennis courts at Richfield Park.

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