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August 9th, 2008
City Council considers new budget

The Fiscal Year is ending and a new budget is being considered.
San Marcos City Manager Rick Menchaca provided the City Council with his presentation of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2008-09. The $145.3 million budget would be allocated to three specific funds. Under this proposed budget, the General Fund would receive $39.6 million; the Water/Wastewater Utility Fund would be given $26.2 million, while the Electric Utility Fund would be awarded the most amount of money of the three, at $60.8 million.

The expenditures of the General Fund include: general government, human resources, finance, engineering, fire, police, public works, community service, planning, and general services. Its total expenditures are projected to be $39,572,131, an increase of $3,355,491. Some of the significant expenditures of the General Fund come from a 62% increase for fuel at $244,896, a light and power increase of $133,377, an EMS strategic plan provided with $50,000 and an IT strategic plan of $35,000. A new central fire station would be provided with $100,000 for furniture, fixtures and equipment, and Menchaca also proposed the establishment of a $100,000 liability fund that would be used for claims and disaster.

Water and Wastewater Fund expenditures are derived from operating transfers, debt service, personnel, capital outlay, contracted service, materials and supplies, and other charges. The total operating expenses are projected to be $25,860,178, an increase of $2,998,970 (13.12%). The Fund’s revenues are also expected to increase by 3.91% bringing the total revenues at $26,556,847. On the other hand, the Electric Fund Expenses are projected at $60,833,540, an increase of $8,662,425 (16.60%). These expenses are for operating transfers, debt service, purchase power, capital outlay, other operating, and personnel. There is no rate increase proposed by the City, but the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) pass-thru purchase power costs will increase electric customer bills.

Menchaca is also proposing to bring up to the council an Efficiency Task Force composed of two City Council Members and five citizens to review city operations. He also wants a Cost of Service and Fee study by City staff, and an establishment of performance benchmarks.

The budget workshop outlines the Fiscal Year 2009 Budget as a sound financial plan, which has appropriate service levels, strategic planning, analyzing performance and establishes an efficiency task force. It also states to focus on the City Council’s vision and goals of economic development, improving the community’s image, enhancing the region’s transportation grid, and improving collaborations between the city and regional entities.

The proposed budget is available online on the city’s website, the San Marcos Public Library, and at the City Secretary’s office. The City Council approved a motion to consider approval for a proposed ad valorem tax rate of $0.5302 per $100 of valuation. Menchaca’s Budget presentation states the effective ad valorem tax rate at $0.5157. Public hearings are scheduled for August 19 at 7:00 p.m. and September 2 at 7:00 p.m. in the City Council Chambers at 630 E. Hopkins Street. Mayor Susan Narvaiz encouraged the public to come to the public hearings and express any comments and concerns regarding the proposed ad valorem tax rate and/or any budget issues. The Budget Adoption and Tax Rate Adoption are scheduled for September 16 at 7:00 p.m.

By ANDY SEVILLA
Correspondent

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