Southlake homeowners could get double tax relief as the city proposes to cut the tax rate while also offering a 20 percent homestead exemption.
City staff proposed a 44.7-cent tax rate, down 1.5 cents from last year, to fund a $103.6 million budget for the 2019 fiscal year.
The lower tax rate and homestead exemption shave the equivalent of 9 pennies off the tax rate for the average Southlake home, valued at $579,405, according to the Tarrant Appraisal District.
“Tax relief with an emphasis on outstanding city services is at the heart of the proposed FY 2019 budget,” City Manager Shana Yelverton told MySouthlakeNews, the city’s newsletter.
Despite the tax relief, Southlake does project a $1.1 million increase in property tax revenue from new construction and rising property valuations, said Sharen Jackson, the city’s CFO.
Mayor Laura Hill applauded the city staff for finding much needed tax relief.
“We’re taking in more tax dollars even though we’re decreasing the tax rate, we’ll continue to give the homeowners a 20 percent homestead exemption,” Hill said. “We have a lot of new construction because we are still a growing city. The other side of that is that those new businesses and those new neighborhoods demand city services. We are still adding traffic lights and adding turn lanes and improving intersections.”
For those capital improvement projects, Southlake will continue funding them with cash rather than issuing debt. Of the 44.5 cent tax rate, 20 percent goes to paying down debt.
“We’re very proud to talk about our debt reduction program that we’ve been working on for several years,” Yelverton said at the Aug. 21 City Council meeting.
Key road projects include continuing the widening of White Chapel Boulevard near Carroll High School, extending Zena Rucker Road east to Tower Boulevard and making intersection improvements throughout the city.
There are also plans for a U-turn lane, also known as a Texas Turnaround, on Texas 114 from Dove Road to Kirkwood Boulevard.
When the Texas Department of Transportation finishes the Farm to Market 1938 widening project, Hill said the city will have a signal timing study done on Southlake Boulevard to help the flow of traffic.
Other highlights of the 2019 budget include the opening of Champions Club this December. The 82,000-square-foot fitness facility will require about 100 part-time employees, including lifeguards, recreation attendants and custodians. The project will be funded by sales tax from the Community Enhancement Development Corp.
Southlake also has five new positions it needs to fill elsewhere. Employees will also get cost of living and merit raises for a combined 5 percent salary increase.
The city is also preparing for the future by setting aside $200,000 for the construction of a new city library/performing arts center at Carillon Parc. Southlake allocated more than $500,000 to School Safety, which includes having a resource officer at all Carroll ISD campuses.
“Campus safety is a top priority of the Southlake Police Department,” Police Chief James Brandon said. “Our strong partnerships with Southlake families and Carroll ISD has helped create new opportunities to enhance school safety while keeping school faculty and our students focused on learning in a safe, protected environment.”