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The changes in the General Fund budget should be compared against the base budget, rather than simply year-over-year. The base budget is the recurring portion of the budget from the prior year. Comparing against the base budget is important because the prior year’s total budget has one-time expenditures that use one-time funding sources, which would skew the overall analysis. The total recurring expenditures are increasing by 3%, with the majority of the $2.66 million increase from base adjustments and employee merit increases. The proposed budget also includes $1.43 million in one-time expenditures for FY19.
Have you ever wondered if the recent annexation of Greatwood and New Territory impacted the City’s budget? The answer is it makes it stronger!The annexation, which added approximately 30,000 new residents to the City along, is among the largest and most successful in state history. The City built its annexation planning around three guiding principles: (1) providing the same level of service to the newly annexed areas, (2) ensuring there was no decrease in existing services as a result of annexation, and (3) a commitment that the annexed areas would generate sufficient revenues to pay for their services so that existing taxpayers do not experience any increased costs because of the annexation.Primarily the result of nearly ten years’ worth of collecting various out-of-city surcharges for services from the annexed residents – which provided over $10M in funding for preparations, the annexation has been a tremendous success. The City has met all of its commitments to both the annexed areas and existing residents – including the commitment existing resident would not experience any increased costs, and the annexed districts have now been fully integrated into the City’s budget. Property owners in these areas will pay 2018 City taxes to fully fund services provided and pay debt service payments; the significant positive financial benefits are providing additional capacity for capital projects. In the FY19 budget there is no longer an "Annexation Budget" as any remaining balances in the annexation funds at the end of FY18 will be transferred to support repayment of debt that the City assumed upon dissolution of the districts.
With 97% of residents believing that Sugar Land is a great place to live in the latest citizen satisfaction survey, we know that it is important to you that we work hard each day to provide you with important, quality services. And with our City’s business-focused company town heritage still existing today, we also know it is important to you that we do that as efficiently as possible. That is why our outstanding workforce of 804.5 dedicated employees represents just 6.8 employees per 1,000 residents, which is significantly less than our peer cities’ average of over 8 per 1,000.
The budgetary reductions made in FY18 included the elimination of 3 full-time (vacant) positions, leaving 804.5 full time equivalent (FTE) positions to provide services. The City will recruit and hire the best employees for positions that become vacant during the year due to normal turnover & retirements, there are no increases proposed to the total FTE headcount for FY19.
While the FY19 budget proposes a combined Utility Fund for operations of the water, wastewater and surface water systems, the revenues that support the systems will remain the same. You will still see the same charges on your monthly bill, with no increases to rates- except for residential solid waste (2.5%).
Your City water bill will continue to show the following detail lines:
The City’s championship workforce understands that public service is still a noble calling, and our employees’ commitment to making life sweeter and more refined for businesses, residents and visitors, is simply known as “The Sugar Land Way.” Not only do we hire the best, we only reward the best!
City services are not comparable to the oil industry, and our employees chose public service for stability predictability. The City doesn't pay like the oil industry- we don't give huge increases or bonuses when times are good, and we try to avoid any reductions in force as it directly impacts the services provided. The oil industry is just not a fair comparison to local government.
For this reason, the City offers annual performance-based merit increases to employees; we do not offer any cost of living increases. The FY2019 budget includes a 3% merit pool – just slightly above the February 2018 CPI and even with the June CPI for the Houston- Woodlands- Sugar Land MSA. This merit pool is an important tool that allows the City to reward employees for excellent performance and to retain our championship workforce. Cost of benefits are increasing for employees in 2019- without an opportunity for a merit increase, some employees would potentially take home less money to support their families.
Based on an average home value of $375,201 with a homestead exemption, the 2018 tax bill is shown below for 3 options being considered by City Council:
The proposed budget did not include the park bond projects, however City Council has published a proposed tax rate of $0.32762 which includes a one-cent increase that would fund the voter-approved park bond projects if approved. On an average home valued at $375,201 with a 10% homestead exemption, the one-cent increase is equal to $33 on the tax bill compared to a flat tax rate.