Board Approved Proposed Fiscal Year 2020 Budget and Amendments
On Monday, May 13, the Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved on first reading the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget along with amendments to be incorporated into the document to be considered on second reading. The proposed budget maintains the current property tax rate of $1.95, maintains or improves core service levels and continues the City’s investment in public safety, education and infrastructure. The public hearing on the fiscal year 2020 budget is scheduled for Monday, June 10, beginning at 6 p.m. in Council Chambers at City Hall, 1930 S. Germantown Road.
The City’s investment in the Germantown Municipal School District (GMSD) tops the list of budget highlights with a $5 million investment in a renovation and addition project at Houston Middle School and for the second year, $1.5 million to complete improvements to the Riverdale heating and cooling system. The budget also includes the entire amount requested by GMSD for security improvements and a $200,000 payment toward the City’s committed funding of the Houston High School field house project. The budget also funds additional crossing guards and school resource officers at Forest Hill Elementary scheduled to open in August.
Germantown Fire and Police departments have increased funding for personnel and equipment. The proposed budget includes funding for an additional six police officers and the equipment necessary to add them to the force. Germantown Fire Department is set to receive a new replacement ambulance and funding to continue supporting the six grant-funded firefighter/EMTs hired during fiscal year 2019.
Infrastructure remains a priority as well, with an additional $800,000 added to the street paving budget. The City will also leverage over $6.6 million in state and federal funds for improvements to major roads and intersections.
Administration was able to present a balance budget which includes these significant investments without a tax increase and with just an 8% increase in expenses over the fiscal year 2019 budget. Revenue growth resulting from economic development activity continues to help alleviate the City’s significant dependence on property tax revenue. In fiscal year 2019 to date, local option sales tax revenues are up 11% with occupancy tax up 2%.
Following approval of the proposed fiscal year 2020 budget, amendments were also approved by the Board. One amendment restored $300,000 in funding to the Oaklawn Garden renovation and $200,000 for street paving. The Board also directed Administration to seek funding for school safety improvements from the Federal School Violence Prevention Grant. A second amendment specified a list of GPAC Grove-related expenses to be funded by the $2.5 million state grant the project received earlier this month. The grant and resulting amendment changes the funding source for close to $1 million from City revenues to grant funds. These amendments will be incorporated into the proposed budget to be considered again upon second reading.
The proposed budget is the result of work that began in December 2018 and involved all City departments. The proposed budget has been recommended by the City’s Financial Advisory Commission to be presented to the Board of Mayor and Aldermen. The next step in the budget approval process includes second reading and public hearing scheduled for June 10, followed by third and final reading on June 24.