Tuesday, July 17, 2018

Live Tweeting the Budget Retreat

The City of Richardson is holding its annual budget retreat to provide preliminary budget planning information to the city council. It's all tentative. It's all preliminary. It's all subject to change. Nevertheless, it's more likely than not to reflect the budget that's finally filed on August 10, 2018 and approved after a subsequent public hearing. My notes from the budget retreat are presented as captured in my tweets from Monday night made during the meeting. (No review. No fact-checking. No filter. What I got wrong blame on my listening comprehension faults.)

  • CoR open mic: No one here to speak. It's the budget retreat. You know, the one where surging property appraisals are discussed along with tax rates and spending. But no one cares...to speak.
  • Dan Johnson forecasts a 7.5% to 8.5% increase in property values. Preliminary budget assumes only 6%. In other words we can expect an "impactful" budget for 2018-2019. Each 1% equates to about $1 million for operations.
  • Dan Johnson proposes phasing out short-term debt issuance for equipment purchases. Maybe all that's why taxpayers weren't lined up to speak at the open mic.

  • Dan Johnson says about 27% of houses in Richardson have senior exemption. Steve Mitchell says it's going up. Scott Dunn says there are a lot young people moving into our neighborhoods.
  • CoR quiz: How much of the entire General Fund revenues come from property taxes? Answer: 41.2%.
  • 27.4% comes from sales taxes.
  • Dan Johnson proposes quadrupling Richardson's fire-fighting budget because as we've seen today, someone in Helsinki loves watching the world burn. #FakeNews
  • Mark Solomon asks if we'll be able to step up our responsiveness to patching potholes. Dan Johnson says no additional money is being budgeted.
  • Bob Dubey loves the painted street names on Plano Rd. Staff explains it's a temporary measure being taken by street repair contractors for their own benefit.
  • Mabel Simpson asks if it we should consolidate CO and GO debts. Dan Johnson says interest rates are identical, so no advantage in consolidation. But there is benefit in phasing out short-term debt and moving short-term expenses to pay-as-you-go.
  • Mark Solomon wants assurance that budget is not reduced for washing/repairing neighborhood walls, entry signs and bridge railings. Dan Johnson says it remains steady.
  • Dan Johnson says budget adds $400,000/yr for park maintenance.
  • Steve Mitchell reminisces about how street repair budget was cut back in the great recession and this park budget increase might need to be cut in another recession. An example of how having institutional memory is important.
  • Steve Mitchell puts in a good word for maintaining our neighborhood pools -- the pools themselves and the concept of neighborhood pool.
  • Dan Johnson says city is considering eliminating one employee PPO health plan, promoting a high-deductible plan, raising premiums, and going to a single provider for pharmacy.
  • Mabel Simpson asks how much money city could save by eliminating both PPO plans and offering only an HSA plan. Answer is that, in the long run, HSA costs would be about the same.
  • Steve Mitchell asks how city compares to other cities in health care coverage? Dan Johnson says city is a little below average. Steve Mitchell asks what it would cost to raise city contribution to average? Dan Johnson offers lots of verbiage, but no answer.
  • Dan Johnson: "For 2018-2019, a rate adjustment for water and sewer of 9.5% is included in the proposed fund summary."
  • Dan Johnson plans a slight drawdown of funds to balance current receipts to expenses. (Kudos to Dan Johnson for noticing. No need for a dedicated blog post this year. ;-)
  • Dan Johnson: On the Golf Fund, a perpetual sore point for some disgruntled non-golfers: "It is anticipated that revenues will match expenses and that no transfer will be needed in 2018-2019."

1 comment:

glbeach said...

Thank you for reprising this information for those of us who - we should not have been but were - unaware of the budget retreat. The ~10% increase is water is a bit of a shocker but probably should not be. After all, except for wages and salaries, what's not going up?