The Arlington City Council has approved the city’s 2020 budget and the tax rate to support it, likely bringing a higher tax bill to homeowners and new technology and safety improvements to the city.
The city will also open and staff two new recreation centers and hire more police and firefighters.
The $552 million budget was approved 8-0 Thursday (councilman Robert Shepard was absent). It is an increase of about $32 million from last year. The city broke down the average monthly tax bill into five areas: $3 to libraries, $20 to the fire department, $43 to the police department, $7 for parks and recreation and $14 for public works and transportation.
The tax rate dropped by 1.08 cents, but most homeowners are likely to pay more because of increased property values. The owner of a $215,000 home with a homestead exemption will pay $973 in property taxes.
The budget includes money to hire 12 police sergeants, eight police officers and five fire department positions.
Seven of the police officers and one of the sergeants will be assigned to the city’s domestic crimes, crimes against children and gun crimes unit. Two of the fire department hires will fully staff the K-9 unit.
Three of the new positions with the fire department are in anticipation of staffing a new truck designed to handle aircraft fires. The Aircraft Rescue and Firefighting truck is not in the budget, but city officials said Tuesday they expect to purchase one next year.
The vehicle would be stationed at the Arlington Municipal Airport.
The City Council was told in previous work sessions that airplane traffic through the airport in Arlington is expected to increase. Fire Chief Don Crowson said he would rather have the the truck when traffic increases than not be prepared in case of an accident.
The budget also calls for expanding the service area for Via, a rideshare company subsidized by the city as its take on public transportation. The expanded area will cover south Arlington, including service to the Tarrant County College Southeast Campus.
Because of the agreement between the city and Via, each ride costs a flat fee of $3.