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At the September 10 meeting, the Coppell City Council took formal action to adopt the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget and tax rate of $0.5840.
"The budget is in line with our history of excellence in financial planning by the City Council," said City Manager Mike Land.
While the City of Coppell has historically considered both short- and long-term factors when preparing the annual budget, the city's future was discussed extensively during this year's budget planning process.
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 the recently concluded legislative session. These new laws not only reduce existing revenues this coming budget year, they may also constrain future revenues beginning with the adoption of the 2020-2021 budget.
"The budget process this next year will be dramatically different," said Mayor Karen Hunt. "We know that there are going to be certain time crunches and there will also be certain restrictions on us… One of the things that I have always seen that this council – and the councils before us – have done is focus on the future. This isn't about fire trucks or air conditioning or insurance or firefighters…this is about setting us up for the future."
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 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.
The Coppell City Council considered an approximately $134.3 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, including the construction of new trails. The budget is based on a $0.5840 tax rate and is accommodated 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 apparatus at a cost of approximately $3 million. In addition to the purchase of these major pieces of equipment, the Coppell City Council also approved a necessary salary adjustment for Police and Fire/Paramedic pay in order to remain competitive in the North Texas region for attracting and retaining high quality men and women committed to serving the citizens of Coppell.
"Every city in the region is looking to hire public safety personnel, so it is important that we remain competitive," continued Land. "As we provide services, the majority – 62% – of our General Fund goes toward paying salaries and benefits for our 400+ employees. Interestingly, almost 50% goes toward public safety, even though our first responders make up only 42% of our workforce. Costs to keep first responders trained, equipped and ready to handle emergencies has increased, so we have had to make adjustments to ensure that we maintain the correct number of high-quality first responders. Safety is our number one priority."
"The other side of that is recruitment," added Council Member Gary Roden. "If we have 15- or 18-year-old fire trucks and we're paying the same as the city next door with ten-year-old fire trucks, we're going to have a hard time getting the best and the brightest."
The 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 and business insurance premiums and provides residents with the highest level of protection and emergency responsiveness.
The 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.
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.
"We heard a lot of discussion and very good dialogue from the public… The thing that stands out in my mind is the work that not only this Council, but the Council in general, has done in the last 20 years to provide a very solid foundation for the City of Coppell," added Council Member Wes Mays. "The bottom line is that the city has set itself in a position to be the envy of the other cities in the area, and I don't want to see that go. We have been able to plan, we've been able to budget, to look forward and then to execute. I think that has put us where we are today, and I certainly don't want to see us move back on that."
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.
For more information about the fiscal year 2019-2020 budget, contact the Finance Department at 972-304-3691 or visit coppelltx.gov/budget.