The Leander City Council voted 6-0 Thursday to ratify a proposed property tax rate reflected in its 2017-18 city budget and then voted 6-0 to approve the proposed $128 million annual budget.
The city council also voted 6-0 to approve the first reading of the proposed tax rate of $0.577867 for fiscal year 2018, a tax rate reduction. Council member Shanan Shepherd was absent for all three votes. The council's actions set up a second reading and final vote on the tax rate which will occur Sept. 21.
Despite the tax rate reduction, homeowners in Leander are expected to pay $73 more per year because property tax values are rising in the city.
"This budget addresses our major goals of continued tax rate reduction, implementing the 2016 bond program, maintaining a competitive compensation program and addressing the service needs of one of the fastest growing cities in the nation,” City Manager Kent Cagle said.
The budget approved Thursday will add 21 jobs, provide for pay increases, build ball fields and renovate an old fire station so it can be used for additional city offices.
Other budget highlights included lowering the city's property tax rate by 2.1133 cents per hundred. It is the fifth straight year Leander has seen a tax rate reduction.
The budget maintains the city's sewer and water rates. It is the seventh year in a row that Leander has not seen an increase in sewer and water rates.
The new budget also continues significant investment in existing infrastructure and continues implementation of the city's 2016 voter approved bond package.
In other action Thursday, the council approved the awarding of a bid in the amount of $1.6 million for the installation of synthetic turf at the Robin Bledsoe Park Sports Complex and authorized the city manager to implement the award to the lowest bidder, FieldTurf.
"We are extremely excited to be partnering with the leader in the world when it comes to synthetic turf products and installation," said Parks and Recreation Director Mark Tummons. "They have their own patented rubber infill, they have been on the cutting edge of fiber (grass) innovation and they have made safety as one of their top focus for athletes of all abilities."
Tummons said the synthetic turf product may be used in a “true multi-purpose” complex that would include flag football, lacrosse, ultimate frisbee and other turf sports.