Waco City Manager Bradley Ford has sent his proposed budget for the coming year to city council members, saying it reflects the impact of COVID-19 on the city economy.
“This budget reduces the City’s recurring expenses to absorb recurring revenue losses without having to furlough or layoff any of our existing employees,” Ford said.
“With the City Council establishing clear strategic goals for the City, I am able to propose a fiscally responsible budget that follows the Council’s path forward into a better future for Waco.”
He noted that the council had set goals including a new Community Policing initiative and a commitment to establishing programs that promote economic and racial equity in the community.
Ford’s proposed budget includes $1.5 million for the community policing initiative along with $600,000 for new equipment for the fire department.
It also includes $667,000 to begin building what was described as a ” culture of equity” in the city, including $125,000 for an Office of Equity within the city manager’s office and $542,000 for various equity-centered purchasing and development programs.
It includes $2.675 million to enhance the quality of life in Waco through with $350,000 to refresh and update the Parks, Recreation and Trails Master Plan, and $2.1 million in capital for Parks improvements.
A total of $3.3 million would go for Economic Development including $2.75 million for the Riverfront Development and a $250,000 annual increase in the City’s contribution to the Waco- McLennan County Economic Development Corporation.
It also includes plans to expand the use of electric vehicles when cost savings are identified.
The net taxable property value increase in FY21 is 1.33%, far below the 8.07% average annual increase for the previous 4 years, showing that growth has slowed during the pandemic.
Ford’s proposed budget maintains the property tax rate at 77.6232 cents per $100 in valuation. The tax rate has not changed in six years.
The city manager’s proposed budget is a starting point as the council begins working on the overall budget process.
The public hearing and vote on the tax rate are planned to occur at a special called City Council meeting on September 8th.