The Heath City Council recently unanimously adopted a budget for the Fiscal Year 2013-2014 that maintains the existing property tax rate at .3433 per $100 of assessed value for the 22nd consecutive year. The last time ad valorem taxes were raised in in Heath was 1991, when Heath had just over 2,000 residents and 800 homes. Today, we have more than 7,400 residents and 2,700 homes. Clearly, things have changed, but our commitment to being wise stewards of your tax dollars has not.
With that in mind, I wanted to answer some common questions about the City’s budget and the budget process.
What is the Purpose of the City’s Budget?
The budget is one of the most concrete expressions of public policy, as it sets forth the City’s priorities for the upcoming year. The City Council makes budget decisions based on what it hopes to accomplish during a given fiscal year. After the budget has been adopted by the City Council, it serves as a road map for where our funds are to be allocated, and as a check and balance system to make sure we are spending City funds properly.
The City of Heath, like many governmental entities, manages its finances by a fiscal year, which runs October 1 through September 30. The process of preparing a new budget begins early in the year. Budget discussions are held in open City Council meetings, which residents are encouraged to attend. Public hearings are advertised and held to give citizens an opportunity to share their input with the City Council prior to the adoption of a final budget.
What are the Council’s Goals for the City’s 2013-2014 Budget?
There are always many competing uses for City funds, and the City Council is always faced with difficult choices when it comes to spending public funds. In making these decisions, we must focus on the fundamental purposes for a City government. I think everyone would agree that we must provide funds for fire and police protection and other public safety needs. Additionally, given the growth that is currently happening in Heath, we must provide funds for the roads, utilities and other infrastructure to support this growth, as well as for City employees to oversee our City’s expansion. We also need to allocate funds to provide for water, sewer and other fundamental government services. All of this must be done in a manner which will allow Heath to remain one of the premier cities in the Metroplex.
What Is the Total Budget for 2013-2014?
The total budget for Fiscal Year 2013-2014 is $12,633,498. This includes the General Fund, Debt Service Fund, two Enterprise Funds and both the Economic Development Corporation and Municipal Benefits Corporation Funds.
How are Funds Allocated?
General Fund Expenditures and Revenue:
The General Fund operations budget of $4,973,425 encompasses approximately 39 percent of the total budgeted expenditures in the approved budget for fiscal year 2013-2014. Services provided by the General Fund include Public Safety, Public Works (street maintenance, parks, code enforcement) and Administration.
Approximately 65 percent of the City’s general fund revenue comes from ad valorem property taxes. Additional significant sources of general fund revenue include franchise fees, 10 percent; sales tax, 9 percent; permits and fees, 6 percent. The remaining 10 percent of General Fund Revenue includes Municipal Court fines, income from leasing water tower space to wireless/cellular companies and other miscellaneous income.
Enterprise Funds Expenditures and Revenue:
The Enterprise Funds budget of $6,045,487 is used to provide water, sewer and trash collection services to City of Heath customers and is 48 percent of the City’s total budget.
Water and sewer fees and charges for trash collections make up the largest portion of revenue in the Enterprise Funds. Water and sewer rates charged to City of Heath customers are determined based upon the costs of providing services. Water rates are impacted significantly by the price the City has to pay to purchase water. The City of Heath’s water supplier is the City of Rockwall, which is a member city of, and obtains water from, the North Texas Municipal Water District (NTMWD). Our new budget includes a water rate increase of 17 cents per 1,000 gallons, due to increased water costs charged to the City.
The remainder of the budgeted expenditures are distributed among the Debt Service Fund of $1,192,021, which pays the debt issued to finance general government capital improvement projects such as street improvements. The Economic Development Corporation budget is $142,790, and the Municipal Benefits Corporation budget is $279,775.
What about the Capital Improvement Plan Budget?
The budget for the recently approved Capital Improvement Plan is separate from the General Budget, but as noted above, it impacts the General Budget because of debt service costs arising from the cost of financing capital improvements.
If you’d like more detailed information, you can find the City’s 2013-2014 budget and a presentation on the Capital Improvement Plan on our website at www.heathtx.com. If you have questions, feel free to contact me, another City Councilmember or City staff by email or at 972-771-6228.
Finally, on behalf of the City of Heath, I wish each of you a happy Thanksgiving, and invite you to kick-off the Holiday season with us at the City’s Annual Holiday in the Park celebration on Friday, December 6 in Towne Center Park behind City Hall. Festivities begin at 6 p.m. and include the Christmas tree lighting, performances by our elementary school choirs, a miniature train ride around the park, visits with Santa, and wassail, cocoa and cookies for all!
Mayor Lorne O. Liechty