Mansfield will hire four police officers and three firefighters, give all city employees merit raises and adjust the pay scale for police officers as part of its 2018 fiscal year budget.
The City Council unanimously adopted the budget and maintained the tax rate at 71 cents per $100 of assessed value for the 10th year in a row. Mansfield will generate an additional $1.7 million based on the tax rate compared to last year, thanks to rising property values and new residential and commercial construction.
Mansfield’s effective tax rate, which would raise the same amount as last year, would have been 68.1 cents. Also, Mansfield remains one of the few cities in Tarrant County without a homestead exemption.
The average Mansfield home is valued at $229,329 so a 20 percent homestead exemption, the maximum allowed by the state, would reduce the taxable value of that home by more than $45,000. That would save the average homeowner about $319 per year on city property taxes.
City staff did explore the possibility of a homestead exemption but found it would cost the city millions of dollars while bringing minimal relief to homeowners.
"We would not be able to add the police officers and firefighters in that scenario," said City Manager Clayton Chandler.
In previous meetings, Chandler stated that while Mansfield isn’t the cheapest city to live in the area, it is the best.
The council had a series of three special morning meetings Sept. 6, 7 and 8 to vote the required three times.
The council adopted the budget as presented with little discussion, praising city staff for presenting a balanced budget.
"Thanks for making it easy on us up here to not have to slice and dice up here," said Councilman Cory Hoffman. "Thanks for everything you do to bring us a balanced budget."
At the Sept. 8 meeting, Chandler thanked the council for making smart business decisions rather than political ones.
"I do believe your decisions are what’s best for the citizens of the city," Chandler said.
Valuation increases have been a topic of concern throughout Texas but particularly in Tarrant County.
A handful of residents asked the council to consider some form of tax relief for homeowners at public hearings in August.
A $20,000 valuation increase would increase taxes by $142 a year, or $11.83 per month, based on the 71-cent tax rate. They were correcting a mistake that appeared in the Aug. 30 edition of the Mansfield News-Mirror.
The new firefighters and police officers are needed for a fast-growing city, especially as Mansfield prepares to open a fifth fire station on the south side of town, possibly in 2019, Chandler said.
Mansfield also plans $10.7 million in infrastructure projects, including $2.7 million for widening East Broad Street near the Shops at Broad project.
The council also allocated the city’s hotel/motel tax dollars for various events and tourism-related organizations. Mansfield doled out $650,232.46 in hotel/motel occupancy funds. The city anticipates to collect more than that and has earmarked an additional $63,267 to be added to the fund balance, said Peter Phillis, deputy city manager.
The hotel/motel occupancy tax fund balance could exceed $800,000 next year, Phillis said. Mansfield is holding on to the money for a possible convention center project in the future, Phillis said.
Hotel/Motel occupancy tax allocations
▪ Mansfield Historical Society - $30,000
▪ Mansfield Invitational (Boys tournament) - $20,000
▪ Mansfield Invitational (Girls tournament) - $20,000
▪ Mansfield Invitational (Volleyball tournament) - $20,000
▪ Discover Historic Mansfield (Painted Pianos) - $1,000
▪ Discover Historic Mansfield (Third Thursdays) - $5,000
▪ Discover Historic Mansfield (Farr Best Concerts) - $5,000
▪ Mansfield CVB - $375,000
▪ Pickled Mansfield Society - $30,000
▪ The LOT Downtown - $75,000
▪ Mansfield Police Department (Electronic signage) - $16,732.46
▪ Mansfield Police Department (Explorer competition) - $18,000
▪ Mansfield Commission for the Arts - $30,000
▪ Applause Concert Series - $3,000
▪ MPM Music LLC - $1,500