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The 2019-20 City Budget was unanimously approved by City Council during a special meeting Tuesday, April 30, and includes no increase to the current millage rate and a unassigned fund balance of $11.3M, the largest yet in the era of Mayor Rick Sollars’ administration.
The general fund budget of $42,718,783 takes effect on July 1. The approval ends a lengthy process that started in January.
The fund balance represents a significant continuing turnaround in Taylor’s finances under Mayor Sollars. Before he was elected in November 2013, Taylor plunged to a $5M structural deficit. At that time, staffing and services were drastically cut, and the City faced the possibility of state receivership. Under Mayor Sollars’ guidance, Taylor worked through a state-mandated deficit elimination plan well ahead of schedule, and has continued to build both its financial picture and add staffing and services.
“Everyone deserves praise for working through the budget process and coming up with this financial plan for the next year,” he said. “Residents should note that we have $1.8M in capital improvements built into this budget – something that we haven’t been able to build in until now. That shows you how much our overall budgeting process has improved. That capital improvements’ number is significant, and will represent a lot of work to be done. Overall, it is truly a team effort,”
The fund balance, otherwise known as a “rainy day fund,” represents a key portion of any budget. This year’s $11.3M represents 26 percent of overall expenditures by the end of next year. Budget and Finance Director Jason Couture pointed out that while “council should look up to this (figure), and be commended,” that “best practices” suggest a fund balance of between 30 and 50 percent of expenditures.
Couture also noted that no funds within the City budget are projected in deficit.
In his budget overview to the council, Mayor Sollars pointed out the 2019-20 budget changes in excess of 5 percent:
The new budget comes on the heels of another outstanding City audit, dated December 2018, along with an announcement earlier this year that residential property values were on the rise across Taylor.
The Plante Moran independent audit at that time offered an unmodified opinion (highest form of assurance) and noted $1.3M added to the fund balance; $14M devoted to infrastructure work; $11M of debt paid down; and pension liabilities decreasing slightly.
Meanwhile, the City’s 2019 residential assessed values were increasing by 17.6 percent overall. Some areas increased over 17 percent in value. Overall residential assessed value rose approximately $143M overall. Commercial and industrial assessments also increased. The commercial assessed values increased by 5.9 percent ($21M) and industrial assessed values increased by 6.4 percent ($12M).
The good news for property owners was that while property was increasing, taxable values were holding firm, and will show an increase of a very modest 2.4 percent over 2018.
All City of Taylor financials can be tracked through the Budget and Finance Department’s “Citizens Guide & Performance Dashboard.