The Arlington City Council took its first look Tuesday at the proposed $471.8 million Fiscal Year 2017 operating budget, which could include a possible property tax rate reduction for the first time in 17 years.Proposals for next fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1, include significant investments in public safety and technology as well as the first year of a three-year plan to make city employee salaries and benefits more competitive with area north Texas cities. The budget, which the Council will vote on in September, also calls for the creation of 40 new employee positions.Even with these additions, the City of Arlington is proposing to lower its property tax rate because of property value increases. The City Council will vote next month on whether to reduce Arlington’s property tax rate, which has been 64.80 cents per $100 of assessed value since 2001, to 64.48 cents per $100 of assessed value. This could result in a property tax savings for some residents.The proposed budget and business plan is built around supporting the City Council’s five priorities: Champion Great Neighborhoods, Support Quality Education, Invest in Our Economy, Enhance Regional Mobility and Put Technology to Work.“We’ve presented today a balanced budget that is in accordance with all of our financial principals,” City Manager Trey Yelverton told the City Council during its afternoon work session. “It maintains our core services while strategically expanding some key priorities in a very cost-effective way. The proposed budget also makes key investments in employee compensation and targeted investments in technology and public safety.”Overall, the budget calls for the creation of 40 new employee positions. Of those, 15 are sergeants for the body camera program. The City also seeks to add five employees in Public Works and Transportation for management of increased road construction projects and a new flood and erosion control plan.At the direction of City Council, Arlington will also place emphasis on increasing employee compensation over the next three years to be competitive with other cities and businesses. For the upcoming fiscal year, Arlington is budgeting about $9 million to go toward increased employee pay and pension benefits.Another large investment is planned for public safety. After a $50,000 pilot program, the City Council seeks to move forward with the implementation of a $2.4 million police officer body camera program. Other proposals include $628,000 for a new fire truck, $600,000 to match a federal grant that helped add 15 new police officers last year and about $640,000 in additional funds for records management and equipment.Improving the City’s technology is another focus, with $2.7 million in additional funding planned for software upgrades, laptops for fire trucks and 9-1-1 hardware and software maintenance.The budget also calls for an additional $380,000 for the upkeep of new park assets, such as the planned Rush Creek Dog Park that is set to open in early 2017, $193,000 to enhance the Bad Konigshofen Family Aquatic Center’s filtration system, $100,000 for the Neighborhood Matching Grant Program and $100,000 to support local arts organizations.The City also anticipates dedicating an additional $2.7 million on street maintenance and $50,000 on street light maintenance next year.While Arlington’s water rates remain among the lowest in the Metroplex, about $6 million in increased fees from the Tarrant Regional Water District and the Trinity River Authority are being passed along to the City in Fiscal Year 2017. This is expected to result in a $2.48 per month, or 4.85 percent increase, for the average residential water utilities customers.Click here for more information on the proposed Fiscal Year 2017 budget.
Public input is welcome at two town hall meetings scheduled in the coming weeks.
Town Hall Meeting #1
- 6:30 p.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday, August 25
- Arlington Municipal Airport, 5000 South Collins Street
Town Hall Meeting #2
- 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. Thursday, September 1
- Arlington Convention Center, Salon A, 1200 Ballpark Way