Arlington council gives initial OK to $406 million budget

Posted Thursday, Sep. 12, 2013  comments  Print Reprints

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The City Council gave preliminary approval Tuesday to a $406 million budget for next fiscal year, which includes pay raises and a one-time bonus for employees.

The budget, which goes into effect Oct. 1, calls for the addition of 11 new positions — four police field supervisors, two code compliance officers, a park maintenance worker and four police positions that were previously grant-funded.

Arlington will also boost street maintenance spending by $5 million and spend more money addressing outdated and high-maintenance vehicles and roofs, and heating and air conditioning units at public facilities.

The vote was 7-0. Council members Charlie Parker and Lana Wolff were absent.

The final vote will be Sept. 17.

No members of the public spoke about the proposed budget.

Mayor Robert Cluck said the pay raises and one-time bonus money will offset rising insurances costs for employees and help Arlington remain competitive with surrounding cities.

City employees “deserve a significant pay raise. I want to put them first this year,” Cluck said. “We can afford it. It’s a good year this year.”

Arlington learned through a recent survey that its civilian employees’ salaries were about 1 percent behind other cities in the region, and police and firefighters’ salaries were 2 to 6 percent behind the market.

The budget calls for a 2 percent raise for police officers and firefighters and 1 percent raise for civilian employees. The raises, which would not take effect until January, will cost the city $1.6 million.

The council also approved a 2-percent one-time bonus for all employees, which will cost the city about $2.7 million.

Arlington is expecting an increase of $3.6 million, or 13 percent, in healthcare costs. Even though the city plans to pick up 75 percent of that increase, employees are being asked to pay higher insurance premiums.

Money for the raises and bonuses will come from one-time funding sources, such as savings on worker’s compensation claims, natural gas well revenue and the projected $1.4 million surplus from this fiscal year.

Arlington’s property tax rate stayed the same — 64.8 cents per $100 of assessed property value — for the 11th straight year. However, the average Arlington homeowner is projected to pay an additional $7.66 to the city during 2014 because of increase property valuations, officials said. Property taxes generate about $78.2 million for the city.

Arlington businesses and residents won’t see increases for water and wastewater rates until Jan. 1. Water bills for the average commercial customer will increase by $24.81 a month, or about $223.29 total for the year. The average residential customer will see a monthly water bill increase of about $4.90, or about $44.10 for the year.

City officials say the rate increases are largely because of $2.8 million in increased costs from the Trinity River Authority and $1.5 million in increased costs from the Tarrant Regional Water District for wastewater treatment and raw water. Arlington plans to transfer about $1.6 million from a $5 million reserve fund to delay the rate increases for its customers, which typically start Oct. 1, by three months. That will save residential customers about $15 and commercial customers about $75.

Residential garbage rates will rise by $1.80 annually because of a contract rate increase with Republic Waste Service.

This includes material from Star-Telegram archives.

Susan Schrock, 817-390-7639 Twitter: @susanschrock

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