Editor’s note: This is the second in a series of posts on the fiscal 2019 budget and tax rate.
No one likes paying more in property taxes. That’s a given. But sometimes it’s necessary to keep a first-class city running the way it needs to.
In our first blog post on the proposed fiscal 2019 budget and tax rate, we took a deep dive into the incredible value that Round Rock homeowners get for their property tax dollars. To keep Round Rock growing successfully, the City Council is considering a modest tax increase for the median value home – $2.94 per month, to be exact – to pay for increased street maintenance and bond projects approved by voters.
Still, folks aren’t happy to hear the budget proposal includes a tax increase. We get it. But it’s worth mentioning all of the ways that we maximize the use of existing resources before we ask taxpayers to provide more revenue for City operations.
Here are just a few of the ways we’ve saved costs, found new funding sources and increased efficiencies over the past 18 months, and in the proposed budget:
- We repurposed a single-family home to use as Fire Station No. 9, saving the cost of demolishing the structure and building a new station. The initial project cost around $250,000, compared to the $2.6 million we spent for Station No. 8
- Of the $104 million spent on City transportation projects over the past five years, $11 million came through our partnerships with other agencies. That doesn’t include major projects in Round Rock where the Texas Department of Transportation has been the lead agency, like the $12.4 million new FM 3406 bridge at I-35; the $19.4 million for frontage road improvements both northbound and southbound between RM 1431 and FM 3406; and the soon to open $28.1 million I-35 braided ramps from SH 45 to U.S. 79
- We selected a new model of Police vehicle that meets our needs at a lower price – a move that saves $5,600 per vehicle and has resulted in $500,000 saved to date
- Our consistent search for bond refunding opportunities during favorable market conditions over the past three years has resulted in annual savings of $1.4 million
- Both the Library and Parks and Recreation use volunteers extensively, offsetting staffing costs by a combined $295,000 per year
For a complete list of cost savings and efficiencies, check out pages 19-20 of the proposed budget.
Other endeavors that have added tremendous value for residents at a reasonable cost include:
- What our Transportation staff calls Bottleneck Projects. We’ve provided significant traffic congestion relief by adding a turn lane at intersections like Gattis School Road and Mays Street (westbound and northbound) Gattis School Road and Red Bud Lane (northbound and soundbound), Forest Creek Drive and Red Bud Lane (northbound and southbound), Gattis School Road and Rusk Lane (eastbound left turn lane) and University Boulevard and Sunrise Road (eastbound). Total price tags for those projects: $4.5 million, of which $2.5 million was for the big Gattis School Road-Mays Street project. By comparison, the extension of McNeil Avenue will cost $4.25 million.
- Transitioning to cloud-based services and improving internal processes means we haven’t had to add any Information Technology staff over the past five years, despite growing demand for improved tech support and services.
- The Texas State Library conducted a study that shows a return of $4.64 in benefits for each dollar spent by public libraries.
But the most effective government service in the world may be delivered by the Fire Department. To wit:
- You call us and we ask 2 questions: Where are you? What’s wrong?
- We show up and fix what’s wrong (without paperwork or applications)
- When we’re done fixing, we clean up and go home
- We’re the easiest to get hold of and we don’t stay longer than we need to
Of course, there’s an amazing amount of work that goes on behind the scenes to make that happen. Rest assured the City is working diligently to ensure we’re not spending more dollars than needed to deliver quality emergency responses – as well as all the other services we provide. Providing exceptional value is an essential component of Round Rock’s Blueprint for Success.