TYLER, TX (KLTV) - Tyler residents could see a slight increase in their property tax rate under a proposed budget that focuses on continuing infrastructure revitalization within the city.
In his annual budget presentation to city council, Mayor Martin Heines is proposing a .4452 cent increase to the current property tax rate of 24 cents per $100 valuation. That means a homeowner whose property is valued at $150,000 would pay an additional $6.68 per year.
The less-than-a-penny increase would be used for the continued stabilization of annual services to residents, Heines said. If approved, the slight increase would be the second year in a row the property tax rate for Tyler residents has risen.
The mayor's annual budget proposal outlines what city officials would like to spend money on in the upcoming year. It includes services such as trash pickup, water and sewer service, parks, streets and so forth. Two public hearings will be held in which residents can offer comments, and then the council will vote on the budget during a council meeting on Sept. 12.
The proposal includes restoring nearly a dozen city positions and offers merit raises for city employees.
During 2017, 13 percent of the city's overall budget was paid in cash toward repairs, maintenance and capital improvements, Heines said.
The purchase of the former ETMC hospital by Ardent transitioned the entity from non-profit to for-profit, and so the property is now subject to city, county and school property taxes. Valued at about $217 million, the city will see several hundred thousand dollars in revenue.
The proposed budget calls for that increase to fund at least two new police officer and two new firefighter positions.
SEWER, WATER, AND TRASH PICKUP
Sewer and water rates would increase under the proposed budget. The department does not receive tax revenue, and so funding is generated through fees for the services provided.
Tyler Water Utilities is proposing a $1 increase in the monthly water and wastewater base rates, and a 1.5 percent increase in the rate for those using more than 25,000 gallons per month.
The $979,848 in revenue these increases would generate will be used for capital improvements to water and sewer services, said City Manager Ed Broussard.
Residents would also see a $1.61 cent monthly increase for regulatory compliance fees on their bill due to continued EPA regulatory compliance debt. This would raise the fee to $2.89 per bill each month.
Residential trash pickup also would increase by 32 cents per month under the proposed budget.
"Over the years, the city has been reluctant to raise rates and fees, even as the cost to provide services became more expensive," Broussard said. "We are now gradually recovering these costs due to the inability of the general fund to subsidize these programs."
ACCOMPLISHED IN 2017: Projects totaling more than $10 million have been completed or are already underway at the Lake Palestine Water Treatment Plant and the Golden Road Water Treatment Plant. A new Booster Pump station is in place on Troup Highway.
PLANNED FOR 2018: Key improvements planned for the upcoming year include replacement of water lines throughout the city, as well as water line looping in key areas to improve water quality. Broussard said the looping action means water will not be standing still inside pipes and that movement will help prevent discoloration issues the city has combated for the past few years.
CITY EMPLOYEES COMPENSATION AND HEALTH CARE
The proposed budget includes a change in how the city offers merit-based compensation. City employees would be offered a choice between a one-time 2.5 percent stipend or a 1.5 percent merit based increase to their base pay.
The city also proposed to increase the living wage to $12 per hour in order to remain competitive with the private sector.
Nearly a dozen city positions frozen under strict budgeting will be unfrozen under the proposed budget.
Health care premiums will not increase under the proposed budget but employees could see a significant increase in their overall deductible. Under the current plan, the deductible is $500. Under the proposal, that will increase to $1,000, and again to $1,500 in the budget cycle for 2019-20.
At the request of several employees, Broussard said a health savings account is being considered for the future.
Residents wishing to provide input on the proposed budget can do so during public hearings to be held during regular city council meetings scheduled for 9 a.m. on Aug. 22 and Aug. 29 at Tyler City Hall, 212 N. Bonner Avenue.
City Council will vote on the budget Sept. 12.