Denton City Council members host town halls for new budget proposal

Denton City Council members host town halls for new budget proposal

Denton City Council members host town halls for new budget proposal
September 06
16:42 2017

The new budget proposal for the City of Denton is in the works, and city council members are trying to get residents on board with the new plan.

City council member Sara Bagheri campaigned with an emphasis on transparency and wants citizens to know how their tax dollars are being spent.

Recently, Bagheri, council member John Ryan and Mayor Chris Watts took part in a town hall meeting regarding to the city budget.

Aug. 28 marked the first of two town hall meetings open to residents to speak about what they wanted the budget to look like and pose any questions for the council members who were present.

“There were only minor questions of clarification at the town hall,” Ryan said about the town hall he hosted on Aug. 21.

Denton resident Jennifer Lane said she attends these meetings so she could learn more about the tax freeze.

“I had worked so hard to try to prevent the senior tax freeze,” Lane said. “So, I wanted to better understand the effective rate freeze.”

Bagheri said it is important for residents to attend these town halls so all their questions are not left unanswered.

“It is a good idea for people to understand where their tax dollars are going,” Bagheri said. “The more they’re aware, the more they can advocate for it.”

At the first meeting, the 17 different funds in the budget were discussed with the 20 residents in attendance. More specifically, the electric, general and street funds were discussed.

One big change to this year’s budget is the addition of the new city manager, Ryan said.

“This is the first budget under the new city manager, so there will be new cost efforts in this budget,” Ryan said. “An example of this would be compared to last year, there was one city manager and four assistant managers. This year, there is one city manager and two assistant managers.”

The overall Fiscal Year 2017-2018 Budget for all funds is $1.14 billion. Of these funds there is the general fund, debt service fund, enterprise funds and internal service funds, special revenue funds and the funds within them.

The Strategic Plan in the proposed budget addresses five Key Focus Areas, organizational excellence, public infrastructure, economic development, a safe, livable and family-friendly community and sustainable and environmental stewardship.

This budget began its process with the city staff in late spring, then was handed to city council in June after each department approved the breakdown of their budget.

The Denton City Council meets four times a month, and held work sessions June through August, meeting a total of 15 times to discuss the budget.

“The emphasis for this year’s budget process has been cost containment through reducing inefficiencies, duplication of services and management consolidations,” the proposed budget on the City of Denton website states.

The effective tax rate, which is the average rate an individual or entity is taxed, is also known as the “no new tax rate.”

This no new tax rate, or tax freeze, means that if property taxes go up, the rate stays the same and the government collects more tax dollars. What the tax freeze will do is keep the same tax rate for residents no matter how much appraisals go up.

The city has experienced a tax freeze vote before for the elderly, which passed by a margin of less than three percent in May.

The next town hall meeting has yet to be scheduled, but will take place before the budget is approved on Sept. 12.

“Taxes should stay the same,” Bagheri said. “The whole council is on board, which I am happy about. We want people to understand it.”

Featured Image: Families and passerbys roam around Downtown Denton on a quiet Monday afternoon. The Denton city budget provides information to residents they can be more aware of the five Key Focus Areas, which include a safe, live-able and family-friendly community. Sarah Schreiner

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Julia Falcon

Julia Falcon

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1 Comment

  1. Papa
    Papa September 06, 21:07

    In reality there is no property tax freeze for seniors in Denton county. Yes, the tax rate is frozen by state law but Denton county allows the property evaluation to rise each year effectively raising property taxes for seniors. Other Texas counties do not do this and also freeze seniors evaluation at age 65.

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