WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - Wichita Falls city officials say there is a lull in economic development. They say sales tax revenue is flat and property values are up but not enough when it comes to the 2016-2017 budget. They say they are eliminating 14 city positions in different departments.
Deputy City Manager, Jim Dockery, says it will save the city about $850 thousand dollars. Money they won't have to pay next year in personnel costs.They say they will use the savings to pay existing employees.
Wichita Falls city officials say civilian positions in the police department, labor positions in the street department and recreation leaders for the summer day camp program are just a few of the positions being reduced.
"It's very tough to eliminate 14 positions in one fiscal year. We had to go through a lot of analysis with our departments. We had to look at areas where we think we can trim back without adversely affecting services to the public."
Dockery says most of the jobs eliminated will be done through attrition. That means when a position opens up or becomes vacant they will eliminate it.
"We've reduced about 14 positions in the general fund so that generates savings that can be applied back to what is called a cost of living adjustment."
The budget cuts will allow the city to pay employees a cost of living allowance increase of 1.5 percent which totals $750 thousand dollars. Dockery says they are facing rising costs in the city because of employee healthcare contributions, employee retirement program contributions and the STEP program for existing employees.
The City Council also proposed a property tax rate increase today. They preserved their option to go to the rollback rate, which is the highest rate they can adopt without being subject to a rollback election - proposing a six cent hike from the current tax rate.
"That's 76 cents per $100 dollars of assessed value and our current tax rate is 70 cents per $100 dollars of assessed value."
That means if a property owner has a $100 thousand dollar home they would pay $63 dollars more a year in Wichita Falls city taxes."
Dockery says he doesn't think the City Council will approve the high rate but they are keeping their options open. The additional revenue from that tax hike would be about $3 million dollars.