Southlake — The city staff has proposed keeping the property tax rate at $.46 per $100 of valuation in 2014, the rate it has remained for the past 10 years.The Council reviewed the proposed $84.8 million budget at its Aug. 20 pre-council meeting. The budget year, which begins Oct. 1 and ends Sept. 30, 2014, also includes several plans to improve the city.City manager Shana Yelverton said the city will reintroduce a tax homestead exemption that on average will provide homeowners with a $1.25 reduction.In the past, the city has looked at the exemption on a year-by-year basis, but Yelverton expects that to change.“We do feel we are ready to memorialize this homestead exemption going forward,” she said.The proposed budget includes funding the engineering and design of the first phase of the community recreation center at $1.7 million. Construction on the community rooms and senior center space is scheduled to begin in August 2014.In addition to the center, the city plans to spend $4.3 million in improvements to Bicentennial Park.The completion of the Public Safety North facility, which will be at the intersection of White Chapel and Dove Road, is also included in the budget. The $16,789 facility construction was funded through the Crime Control and Prevention District and through 4-year bonds.But $679,954 will be used from the city’s general fund for 12 firefighters, a rangemaster and facility operations.The facility, which is expected to have its grand opening in January 2014, will include training and class rooms, a fire truck company and a shooting range.Yelverton said the facility will help ease response times to the northern part of the city from 10 to seven minutes.Fire Chief Michael Starr said those minutes are vital.“Four to six minutes in a CPR situation, brain death occurs,” he said. “The sooner we can go to a location and start CPR and administer oxygen, the better the chances are of the patient surviving.”The budget also accounts for the use of funds from the Crime Control and Prevention District to pay the salaries of nine additional school resource officers.City staffers will see salary increases in the upcoming fiscal year when a new compensation system is implemented. The increases are intended to keep the city competitive in hiring and retaining workers. The new salary structure includes a 2 percent annual raise for city staff and a raise for those not meeting the minimum of the new pay ranges. The annual raise is fading away as the city moves toward a merit-based pay system.The City Council will consider voting to approve the budget at the Sept. 3 and Sept. 17 Council meetings.The budget is available to view at the city’s website, www.cityofsouthlake.com.
Dustin L. Dangli 817-390-7770