Huntsville leaders expected to present budget with additional spending

by DailyBriefers
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Planning for the city of Huntsville’s 2021-22 fiscal year budget will kick into overdrive next week.

Prior to Tuesday’s meeting of the Huntsville City Council, leaders are expected to present a budget calling for a one-cent tax hike, alongside a large increase in expected sales tax revenues.

The city manager’s proposed budget, which has not yet been made public, is expected to call for over $70 million in operations spending with millions of additional dollars expected to be allocated for capital improvement projects.

But, what will the impact be on local taxpayers?

According to certified totals, which were recently released by the Walker County Appraisal District, the city of Huntsville will be allowed to charge a maximum tax rate of 33.91 cents per $100 valuation without voter approval. However, city leaders are currently seeking a rate of 30.75 cents per $100 — a slight increase from this year’s adopted rate of 30.62 cents. If approved by the city council, the proposed rate would be the first tax rate increase for the city of Huntsville in nearly a decade.

City leaders say that the proposed tax increase will be used to cover the cost of two additional firefighter positions. However, the budget also includes both merit and step pay increases for most city staff. This comes a year after the city fully-implemented pay raises based on a compensation study.

The city is projected to generate nearly $5.75 million through property taxes and at least $10.5 million in sales taxes from October 2021 to October 2022. According to Walker County CAD, the value of the average homestead in Huntsville increased from $183,932 to $195,018 — a 6.03% jump.

The city council is expected to finalize capital improvement projects during a 5 p.m. workshop on Tuesday, followed with a public hearing on the tax rate on Aug. 18 and a public hearing on the recommended budget on Sept. 7.

ON THE AGENDA

Highlighting the agenda items for Tuesday’s meeting includes the first reading of an ordinance that will award $310,781 for additional design services from Randall Scott Architects Inc. This comes as city leaders opted to expand the budget for the construction of city hall and the city service center by $4.5 million. The increased funds will allow for the construction of a third story at the new city hall.

Other items expected to be discussed include:

• approval of an ordinance that will adjust the responsibilities of the Hotel Occupancy Tax Advisory Board. If approved, the board will function as a tourism advisory board.

• the appointment or re-appointment of positions on seven city boards and commissions.

MEETING INFORMATION

The city council workshop is scheduled to begin at 5 p.m., followed by the 6 p.m. meeting. Those unable to attend the meeting, can watch it online at itemonline.com or at huntsvilletx.gov

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