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The Coppell City Council recently took action to publish and advertise the proposed fiscal year 2019-2020 tax rate of $0.5840 and schedule two Public Hearings. The Council's action did not approve the proposed tax rate of $0.5840 or the overall Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget. The proposed tax rate and fiscal year 2019-2020 budget are subject to change until they are formally adopted by City Council at the Tuesday, September 10, regularly scheduled meeting.
"The proposed budget is in line with our history of excellence in financial planning by the City Council," said City Manager Mike Land.
The City of Coppell continues to see positive economic indicators, including the City's AAA bond rating, growth in the tax base and sales tax receipts primarily due to distribution centers and business parks. Expenditures, revenues, and reserves have been managed efficiently and proactively for many years, resulting in appropriate fund balances and a strong financial position.
"As a result of our current financial position, we were able to prepare a sound, conservative budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year," Land continued. "The proposed budget includes a recommended increase in the property tax rate over last year's rate, bringing the proposed rate to $0.5840. Through thoughtful and deliberate planning, the City Council was able to decrease the tax rate more than twelvecents since 2012, while maintaining the city's infrastructure and providing a high level of service, beautiful facilities, and unique amenities for the community to enjoy. With that operational standard in mind, the City Council is in the process of adjusting their previously successful planning efforts to prepare for the local impacts that will result from new laws passed by the State Legislature during this recently concluded legislative session. These new laws not only reduce existing revenues this coming budget year, they will also restrict future revenues beginning with the adoption of the 2020-2021 budget."
The Texas State legislature recently passed legislation to reduce municipal revenues this coming budget year and cap municipal property tax revenues at 3.499% annually, beginning with the fiscal year 2020-2021 budget. Consequently, the presented budget reflects an extremely conservative approach on spending and anticipated revenues. As proposed, property tax revenues generate approximately one-third of budgeted revenues across all funds and the majority of the levy is used to support general fund operations, primarily public safety. Coppell City Council and staff have worked together to minimize the impending impact of the legislation's restriction on citizens, from the perspectives of both a property tax levy and the services provided. When examining the future impact of the Legislature reducing non-property tax revenue combined with the property tax revenue cap, it is evident that property tax revenues alone will not be able to keep up with increased expenses, specifically associated with the cost of providing police, fire, and emergency medical services to the community. Unlike school districts, the State provides no funding to cities like Coppell. In fact, the City of Coppell sends money to the State of Texas generated locally from sales taxes and municipal court fines.
"This sobering reality gives us great pause as we consider our community's future," noted Land. "Fortunately, we have time to engage the Council and community in determining adjusted levels of service that will come with the forthcoming reduced revenues."
The City of Coppell considers both short- and long-term factors when preparing the annual budget. The City's aging infrastructure continues to be an important concern requiring significant resources. In fiscal year 2019-2020, the City's next iteration of strategic planning, Vision 2040, will be formalized to continue to move the City forward in its efforts to make Coppell a Family Community for a Lifetime. The proposed fiscal year 2019-2020 budget contains the funding necessary to continue the delivery of the services, programs, and capital improvements the community expects and demands.
In September, the Coppell City Council will consider an approximately $141.7 million total budget, which includes, but is not limited to, the General Fund, Water and Sewer Enterprise Fund, Coppell Recreation and Development Corporation Fund and Debt Service Fund, that will be used to fund numerous projects and services, including the opening of Fire Station 4, reconstruction of Airline Drive, replacement of the Police patrol fleet, ADA improvements to infrastructure and facilities, technology to support crime control activities and improvements to parks and recreation facilities. The proposedbudget is based on a $0.5840 tax rate and isaccommodated by rising values and sales tax revenues. The majority of sales taxes are collected from non-Coppell residents that commute to the City for work and from business to business transactions. According to Dallas County, the total taxable value for the 2019 tax year is $8,045,416,839, an increase of 5.99% over last year. Home values are up 3.43%over the prior year, and the average taxable value for a Coppell home is $397,335. Commercial values are up 6.88%, while Business Personal Property is up 14.47%.
Maintaining a pay-as-you-go approach to capital expenditures has been one of the hallmarks of the Council's financial planning goals. The 2019-2020 budget continues this commitment. Included in the capital purchases are the replacement of four fire trucks and apparatus at a cost of approximately $3 million. With the new revenue cap in place, the Council may have to consider adjusting the pay-as-you-go model that has proven successful in the past. In addition to the purchase of these major pieces of equipment, the Coppell City Council is also considering providing the necessary salary adjustments for Police and Fire/Paramedic pay necessary to remain competitive in the North Texas region for attracting and retaining high quality men and women committed to serving the citizens of Coppell.
The proposed budget includes General Fund allocations of $71,893,723. Funding has been allocated for the addition of eight firefighter/paramedics needed to support the opening of Fire Station 4. The addition of the firefighter/paramedics, added to the eight already hired this year, the addition of Fire Station 4 and the relocation of Fire Station 1 will allow the Fire Department to continue to meet safe and effective response and service levels associated with recent growth and development, particularly commercial development on the city's south and west side. Fire Station 4 will provide a larger number of residents with necessary services and will allow the department to maintain an ISO Class 1 rating, which lowers homeowner insurance premiums and provides residents with the highest level of protection and emergency responsiveness.
The proposed General Fund budget also includes funding to upgrade technology infrastructure, replace necessary park maintenance equipment, and for routine maintenance projects that will help ensure that the community remains safe, walkable, and clean.
Additionally, the 2019-2020 Budget includes plans by the City Council to issue debt for: intersection improvements to ease traffic congestion; drainage improvements to address various city owned properties negatively impacted by ongoing erosion; the construction of a relocated Fire Station 1 that, when complete, will better serve the central residential areas of Coppell and the expanding commercial base west of S. Belt Line Road; and the eventual reconstruction of S. Belt Line Road, south of its intersection with Southwestern.
Coppell Mayor Karen Hunt praised the budget process and addressed why changes are necessary as the City of Coppell moves into the future. "[Approval of this Council agenda item] begins the process that we have continued over many years. The Council's foresight and the long-term planning has allowed us to be flexible in our tax rates historically. This year is different. This year we continue to look forward, but it's a new forward for us. We are probably being a little more conservative than we normally are."
"This is not about this year or next year," added Council Member Wes Mays. "This is about our future."
The proposed Fiscal Year 2019-2020 budget is now available online for public review. The public is encouraged to attend the Public Hearings regarding the Budget and Tax Rate and provide input:
City Council meets in the Council Chambers at Coppell Town Center, 255 Parkway Boulevard. The meetings will also be aired live on Coppell's Public Access Channel, CITV, channel 32 on Frontier and channel 16 on Time Warner. The video can also be viewed on the City website.
About the City of Coppell Budget:
"The City of Coppell is in a great financial position," said Mayor Karen Hunt. "City staff continue to do a fantastic job managing our public monies. We are very fortunate to live, work, and play in a city that places a high value on community and quality of life while focusing on maintaining what we have built."
The City of Coppell works diligently to be fiscally responsible and transparent, and the City continuously receives accolades from outside agencies regarding its financial planning and prudent budgeting practices. The City strongly encourages residents to get involved, attend public meetings and provide feedback on the proposed budget.
For more information about the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget, contact the Finance Department at 972-304-3691 or visit coppelltx.gov/budget.