TEMPLE TERRACE — The City Council this week holds the first of two public hearings on the proposed $42 million annual operating budget for the 2018-19 fiscal year, which starts Oct. 1.
Because a rise in property values has put more tax money in city coffers, the council is expected to drop the tax rate from $6.955 per thousand dollars of home value to $6.555 per thousand.
The $42,087,653 proposed budget includes a 6 percent raise in the employee compensation fund, $1.4 million to complete payment of the ongoing renovation of the Family Recreation Center and $750,000 for a new fire truck. The city will also put $200,000 in the general fund reserves.
The council is expected to approve the budget in two public hearings, today (Sept. 4) and Sept. 18.
The budget is slightly higher than the 2017-18 operating budget. For accounting purposes, last year’s budget obligations included a nearly $24 million payoff on an old loan to buy and improve downtown redevelopment acreage. The city refinanced the loan in the spring.
The path to completing the budget was far smoother than last year, when council members complained about confusing numbers and glaring errors. Finance Director Lyn Boswell, who was then new to the city, said she had based the budget projections on figures from the previous finance director.
The document was cleaned up after Boswell, City Manager Charles Stephenson and a resident volunteer, retired accountant Gil Schisler, huddled over a weekend to work on it. Schisler, currently a candidate for a council seat Nov. 6, said a number of errors were caused by an old "cut and paste’’ system of transferring numbers from one format to another. He said a new software program solved much of the problem.
Council Member David Pogorilich praised Boswell and Schisler for making this year’s ritual "a good budget cycle.’’