$100,000 in budget for Mayor, Council member salaries
By MIKE EDDLEMAN
This year’s proposed budget is different from the current-year budget in many ways, beginning with a new compensation plan for Mayor Rick Hall and City Council members.
“The total amount for the Mayor and Council is $100,000 and that is split up at $12,000 per council member then $40,000 for the Mayor,” Hall said.
The Mayor currently receives a $500 monthly stipend and Council members do not receive any compensation.
The plan came together as Hall and Mayor pro tem Liz Rundzieher worked to craft the new budget.
“Myself and Liz Rundzieher have been working on the budget and she made a suggestion first that we put in an amount for me as Mayor and then I made a suggestion we put in something for the council members,” Hall said. “The Council, until they saw the budget that was presented, that was their first knowledge of it. It’s always been myself and Liz working on this budget.”
Following lengthy discussions of a tax rate and staffing levels, the Liberty Hill budget passed last September maintained the status quo with the rate and staffing, but the City is looking at a sizable budget increase this time around.
While the proposed tax rate has been lowered to $0.49 per $100 valuation from the current $0.50 per $100 valuation – in part to avoid a potential rollback election – the general fund budget has increased from the $2.96 million approved last year to a proposed amount of $4.2 million this year.
Mayor Hall said he is comfortable with the increased revenue projections and the increased spending – primarily on new staffing. He showed support last summer for additional staffing with new maintenance personnel and additional police staffing, but did not have enough Council support.
This year, so far, the Council has been largely silent on the proposed budget.
Hall said this budget is part of his plan to prepare Liberty Hill to deal with growth.
“I have a plan to ensure we are equipping our City with the right amount of people, and personally I feel some of our departments have lacked the support we’ve needed over the past several years and we probably should have been a lot further along than where we are right now,” he said. “With this year’s budget we’re trying to play catch up on a lot of that and still be able to take that rollback rate and drop the taxes for everybody by one cent.”
Liberty Hill currently has 37 employees, with vacancies in the City Administrator post and project manager/inspector position. The proposed budget has 17 positions added that were not in last year’s budget, including the vacant project manager/inspector position and recently filled Emergency Management Planner post recently filled that were on the books prior to the budget being proposed.
Some of the proposed positions will be covered partially through the general fund and partially through the water or wastewater funds.
The proposed administrative personnel budget more than doubled from last year at $505,420 to $1.125 million this year.
Contractual services was budgeted at $574,165 for the current year, but is expected to top $1.1 million in expenditures by year end. The proposed amount for next year is $692,051, down considerably from current expenditures. The budget calls for an increase over last year’s budget in materials and supplies, but is nearly two thirds less than the projected actual expenditures of $147,000.
The other area where personnel expenses are considerably higher is within the police department, where five full-time and one part-time employee make up a large portion of city-wide staffing increase.
The projected personnel expense for the current year in the department is just over $785,000, with next year’s budget coming in at $1.26 million.
The additional staffing is a priority for Hall.
“Getting these additional folks online is part of a bigger plan for preparing for the growth we have in the city,” Hall said. “I’ve been involved with this budget from the start this year and I’m extremely happy with the results.”
The property tax rate approved last September for the current year’s budget, along with sales tax revenues and fees, was expected to generate an estimated $3.23 million for the general fund, and budgeted expenses were $2.96 million when it was approved.
The proposed budget for next year, set to be voted on in September, has a general fund with $4,237,617 in expenses, balanced by the same in projected revenues.
The proposal also shows a balanced budget of $4,505,862 for wastewater, $1,230,720 for City Sewer, and $1,431,325 for City Water.