By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager
The COVID-19 pandemic has affected just about every aspect of our lives since early 2020. At the City of College Station, it meant an extended hiring freeze and prudent expense management.
Thanks to those efforts – along with better-than-projected sales tax revenue during the pandemic and grant funds from the CARES Act — the city weathered the storm and is in a stable financial position as we head into the 2022 fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.
The proposed FY 22 budget presented to the College Station City Council Thursday night reflects somewhat of a return to normal operations after significant adjustments during the worst of the pandemic. With Texas A&M returning to in-person classes this fall and home football games at capacity, we have more certainty and predictability as we deliver critical services to our residents.
The council takes a more in-depth look at the numbers in a series of budget workshops July 19-21. A public hearing on the budget and tax rate is July 27, followed by adopting the budget and tax rate as early as Aug. 12.
The pandemic created unprecedented challenges. As a result, the budget’s overriding themes are maintaining the city’s financial stability, providing vital core services, and recognizing the economic stress placed on our citizens, businesses, and institutions. The proposed $353.74 million budget provides a roadmap for addressing the city’s challenging public safety, infrastructure, and financial demands as we emerge from more than a year of uncertainty. That’s a 13.4% increase compared to FY 21.
The proposed tax rate remains at 53.4618 cents per $100 of assessed value, and the budget includes no electric, water, or wastewater rate increases. The estimated increase in property valuation results in additional revenue of about $3.1 million, with $1.85 million going to the General Fund and the rest going to debt service. The operations and maintenance part of the budget totals $282.2 million, while $71.54 million is allocated for capital projects.
The proposed budget also returns the frozen jobs and 75% of the expense reductions from FY 21. In addition, the city has been allocated $29.48 million under the American Rescue Plan Act. However, since qualifying expenses must be incurred before December 2024, the city won’t recognize those funds until they are qualified and received.
Early next week, we’ll post a series of podcasts here with Director of Fiscal Services Mary Ellen Leonard that takes a deeper dive into the budget and the unique challenges that were part of its development.
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