Note: Success doesn’t happen by accident. For the City of Round Rock, it’s been a decades-long process of strategic planning and methodical execution. The Future Forward series highlights our efforts to manage Round Rock’s rapid growth.
Taking the long view on finances helps keep Round Rock one of the best, most affordable places to live in the United States. We ranked No. 4, in fact, in a study done a couple of years of ago that looked at the most affordable places that you’d actually want to live in.
Every year, prior to the Council’s annual budget deliberations, the City Council takes a hard look at our long-term financial planning and five-year outlook. The City CFO reported in June that Round Rock’s financial outlook remains strong and stable.
The City’s recent business recruiting successes, along with sales tax growth and a long-term approach to strategic planning are key to ensuring financial stability.
Our Strategic Plan provides a north star to guide City planning and budgeting. The City Council reviews and updates the Strategic Plan annually, at a retreat in February. Round Rock’s strategic priorities are:
- Financially Sound City Providing High Value Services
- City Infrastructure: Today and for Tomorrow
- Great Community to Live
- “The Sports Capital of Texas” for Tourism and Residents
- Authentic Downtown — Exciting Community Destination
- Sustainable Neighborhoods — Old and New
Knowing where we’re going in the future makes today’s spending decisions that much more effective.
Here are the assumptions going into our five-year forecast:
- Population growth continues in the 2.5 percent to 2.8 percent range, which means a population of 128,000 by 2023
- Local development and economic growth continue, estimated at 20-25 percent over five years
- Stable state and national outlook
- Current Council goals continue as guiding direction (business friendly, family focused, sports tourism, strong public safety)
- Kalahari Resorts will open as expected in FY 2021
So what are we doing with that forecast information? One of the most significant is working toward a more balanced mix of General Fund revenue (the General Fund is what pays for basic services like Police, Fire and Parks). Currently, the General Fund is comprised of 45 percent sales tax revenue, 32 percent property tax revenue, 23 percent other taxes and fees. By 2023, we project a balance of sales tax and property tax at 40 percent.
The balance means more stability for the City, since sales tax is a more volatile source of revenue. The forecast assumes modest growth in sales tax revenue over the next five years. The projection still maintains the City’s position as having one of the area’s lowest city property tax rates.
But as we noted up top, Round Rock’s not about being the cheapest. It’s about creating a community where you actually want to live, that’s safe, with great parks, a dynamic library and well-maintained streets. Where we implement the long-term plans for water and transportation that will ensure its livability for generations to come.
It just makes cents.