The city of Huntsville is in the final stages of a six-month budget process.
With a final public hearing planned for Monday and a vote for adoption scheduled for Tuesday, members of the Huntsville City Council are prepared to finalize a $75.1 million budget.
The proposed budget has $513,000 less in the general fund than the one council approved last year. It is over $887,000 higher overall than last year’s budget, according to Huntsville Finance Director Steve Ritter.
“This proposed budget considers the current pandemic related to COVID-19,” Huntsville City Manager Aron Kulhavy said in a letter presented to the city council in August. “Although the city was not significantly impacted by a decline in sales tax revenue as anticipated in the current fiscal year, other sources of revenue including court fines and hotel/motel taxes had a significant decline.”
The proposed property tax rate of 30.62 cents per $100 valuation, while a decrease on paper from last year, will allow the city to generate 4.48 percent more in additional revenue, most of which is coming from new property added to the tax rolls.
The 30.62 cent tax rate will help the city with the budgeted $1.5 million to fund street maintenance for the next fiscal year. This funding will help the city get back on track after the council, as part of coronavirus-related budget cuts, decreased the budget for street repair by 25 percent.
The tax rate is made up of 23.19 cents per $100 valuation for maintenance and operations and $6.63 cents for debt payments. The city currently has $46.5 million in debt obligations that are secured by property taxes.
However, it is sales taxes that make up the majority of the city’s general fund. That has been a constant increase for the city, with the city already collecting $7,14 million this year — a 5.85 percent increase from the prior year.
COUNCIL MEMBER LOOKING TO LOWER WATER MULTIPLYER
During Tuesday’s scheduled meeting, Mayor Pro Tem Joe Rodriquez is expected to present a proposal that will decrease the multiplier on outside city limit water rates from 1.75 to 1.5.
The multiplier for outside city water customers was increased to 1.75 from 1.25 under last year’s budget, which was a 40 percent rate increase. That rate was maintained in the proposed 2020-21 budget.
State law allows for a city to apply a 2.0 multiplier for water and sewer services for outside city limit residents. Huntsville city staff officials are estimating that a reduction in the city’s rate to 1.5 would reduce revenue by approximately $40,000.
PARTICIPATE IN THE MEETING
Monday’s public hearing on the proposed budget will begin at 5 p.m. inside the council chambers of Huntsville City Hall. A subsequent public hearing on the tax rate will be held at the beginning of Tuesday’s 6 p.m. meeting.