Note: This is the first in a series of posts about the proposed Fiscal Year 2021-22 budget and tax rate.
The Round Rock City Council’s first public deliberation on the fiscal year 2022 budget focused on strategic priorities designed to meet the demands of a growing population while delivering high value services.
The proposed $525.4 million budget is heavy on infrastructure spending – including a record amount for road construction – and adds a new mental health team to deal with increasing challenges faced by public safety officers.
The City Council’s July 22 work session kicked off the FY 22 budget and tax adoption process. The first votes on the final budget and tax rate are set for Aug. 26. As we move through the schedule, we’ll be producing a series of posts and videos designed to inform while also providing opportunities for feedback.
The proposed budget is $105 million more than the original FY 21 budget and includes 52 new full-time positions. Those higher-than-usual increases are the result of the conservative fiscal approach taken over the past 18 months due to the COVID-19 pandemic. There had been a hiring freeze, and new revenues were projected to be limited as well.
But revenues continued to grow, as did Round Rock’s population and the resulting demand for services. Our finance team views FY 22 as a year for a fiscal reset. Here’s why:
FY 2019 – pre-COVID 19
- Revenues growing 3.0 to 3.5 percent
- Major costs (salaries, benefits) rising at 4 to 5 percent due to a strong economy
- City began feeling the pressure of that disparity
FY 2020, 2021
- Expenses kept static or reduced
- Revenues kept growing
FY 2022 proposal
- Revenues growing plus American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds available for needed programs
- All COVID-related budget reductions restored
- Operating costs, programs back to FY 20 capacity
- No frozen positions
- Base costs increased slightly
- Expected supply shortages, higher demand have caused cost increases
The stronger-than-expected revenue growth allows the City to continue to advance the City Council’s strategic goals of staying on top of our infrastructure needs while also delivering quality of life programs through parks and recreation and library services.
Here are some of the highlights of the spending plan:
- Transportation – the budget lays out $132.7 million for transportation improvements. Most of those dollars are dedicated to the Driving Progress program, which is funded in part by certificates of obligations (COs). That debt will add 1 cent to the property tax rate next year.
- Water and Wastewater – we’ll be spending $87.5 million for capital improvements to these utilities, including regional projects to meet continued growth
- Parks and Recreation – $7.3 million is earmarked for major extensions of the Brushy Creek Regional Trail system
- Library – A $34.9 million new library is under construction, and $9.1 million is allocated this fiscal year
- Stormwater – The budget anticipates $10.7 million in ARPA funds over the next 5 years for stormwater capital projects. FY 22 projects include improvements in Round Rock West and Chisholm Valley.
- Northeast Downtown – There is $23.7 million earmarked for a new parking garage, streetscape and utility improvements near the new library site
Public safety departments are getting over half of the new hires, with the Fire Department planned for 18 new personnel and the Police Department 10.25 (the .25 is converting a part-timer to a full-time position).
The Fire Department is proposing to create a new mobile outreach team with 14 personnel. The team would function as mental health first responders, integrating with police, fire and emergency management to provide emergency and non-emergency behavioral healthcare. (We’ll have more on this team in a future budget blog post.)
The Police Department is adding a new squad of one sergeant and five officers, two crime scene specialists, one communications operator and one crime analyst, along with converting a law enforcement support technician to full time.
Transportation is looking to bring on six new hires, including two signal technicians, two street maintenance workers, a crew leader and equipment operator.
You can find a summary of proposed new personnel on pages 78-79 of the budget workshop book.
We’ve got more budget posts planned in coming weeks with details on the proposed property tax rate, sales taxes, infrastructure spending, public safety, how the budget activates the Strategic Plan, and more. Stay tuned as we are Building Toward the Future.
Share your thoughts or ask questions about the FY 22 budget in the box below. We welcome your input! All comments will be shared with the City Council.