In a special Town Council Meeting on Monday afternoon, Highland Park Mayor Margo Goodwin and council members Jimmy Grisham, John McKnight, and Craig Penfold spent most of the time discussing the combined 2019 proposed budget, projected at $46.2 million, including $24.26 million for the general fund, $14.13 for the utility fund, and $4 million for the capital projects fund.
Here are three things to know:
While the budget doesn’t require a property tax rate increase, property taxes are expected to generate $602,351 more revenue for the new budget year, a 4.60 percent increase from last year’s budget. Only $128,404 of that is anticipated to come from new property added to the tax roll, so most of the increase is a result in existing properties being valued more than a year ago. The Town Council will hold public hearings on the budget at its meetings on Aug. 13 and 27 and is scheduled to adopt the budget at its meeting on Sept. 10.
Higher Utility Bills
Town residents can expect higher utility bills in the new budget year. Steven Alexander, the town’s director of administrative services and chief financial officer, explained that the town has absorbed costs as the charges it pays for water and wastewater services have gone up in recent years without passing those along to ratepayers. But with those costs, as well as the cost for sanitation, continuing to rise, the town is planning for rate increases. Under the new rates, a resident with separate house and sprinkler system meters for a lot of between 10,001 and 21,800 square feet, could expect to pay $15.42 more a month for 25,000 gallons of water use.
Big Tree Talk
The fate of the town’s “Big Pecan Tree” remains on the mind of town leaders, though no decisions have been made on how to respond to its continued decline. Kathleen Stewart, assistant director of town services, is expected to report back to the council, likely before the end of August, on how much it would cut to remove the tree and lumber its wood for later use.
Micah Pace of Preservation Tree Service informed the council weeks ago that the 75-foot-tall landmark monarch will continue to develop deadwood, lose canopy, and pose at least some risk to those who pass near it.