Southlake — Residents who own a $520,000 home would pay $240 a year less in property taxes under the proposed budget for fiscal year 2015.The city staff presented a proposed $86.7 million budget that is 2.2 percent more than last year’s $83.4 million at an Aug. 19 city council meeting. Under the proposed budget, the general homestead exemption would increase from 3 percent to 10 percent. The tax break applies to most residents who are homeowners. “The economic increases and development that have occurred in the city have continued to lessen the burden on our homeowners,” Mayor John Terrell said. “That is a big part of what this council has done for a number of years.”The average Southlake property owner at $520,000 will see an annual $240 savings or $52,000 reduction in taxable value, according to city estimations. Other tax relief measures that have been in place include an exemption and tax freeze for those over 65, and a disabled exemption.“It is always one of our priorities to give tax relief to the residents and the homestead exemption is a way for us to do that,” Sharen Jackson, the city’s chief financial officer, said. “With the development growth that we’ve had and the increase in value it afforded us, that value allowed us to increase the tax relief for our residents.”Jackson said she expects the relief to stand for several years.The city is projecting $25.2 million in sales tax revenue compared to $24.4 million last year, slight growth attributed to continued retail development.The proposed budget also includes keeping the tax rate at $.462 of $100 valuation. The rate has been the same for 12 years.The budget also includes funding for the $46.5 million community recreation center, which breaks ground in late September. The city plans to budget $218,649 to add an events and hospitality manager, sales specialist, special events coordinator and branding and marketing.Also in the Capital Improvement Program, the city looks to allocate $2 million to help pay for phase two of the center’s construction. That money is contingent on voters agreeing via May 2015 ballot to reallocate a majority sales tax revenue now used for crime control funding to economic development for construction and operation of the community recreation center. If the measure passes, construction would start in fall 2016 on the second phase. There will be no second phase if the measure fails.The center’s first phase, funded with cash, includes a senior center, meeting space, event venue and an outdoor amphitheater costing $15 million. Phase two would include aquatics, fitness and child care for $31.9 million.Most of the increases in the budget, which is 2.2 percent larger than last year’s, are across-the-board, but personnel and heavy equipment costs for fire engines, street sweepers and other vehicles also have a large impact.The city council will have a public forum and vote to adopt the budget at its Sept. 16 city council meeting.
Dustin L. Dangli, 817-390-7770