Wichita Falls City Council approves 2023 budget

Published: Sep. 6, 2022 at 5:38 PM CDT
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (KAUZ) - Starting Oct. 1, Wichita Falls residents will see a decrease in property taxes while seeing an increase on their water bill.

City council members approved the 2023 budget Tuesday morning in what they called their smoothest process yet. They say that not because this was easy by any means, but because they gave staff, city council and the public extra time to weigh in on the proposals before having to vote on them.

“We were able to come with our first budget presentations earlier in the summer, giving more time for more public comment and more feedback,” Jessica Williams, City of Wichita Falls director of finance, said.

After nine months of what officials call a roller coaster ride, the Wichita Falls City Council has approved the 2023 budget. They actually went about the process differently this year which officials say helped move the process along more swiftly.

READ: Wichita Falls City Council approves water bill increase

“We did add in an extra week for council members to come and talk to the budget team if they had any questions, to go over any items of concern that they may have and then we continued to move forward,” Williams said.

“We basically set our calendars to enable us to have more time to have these discussions and I think it worked,” Wichita Falls Mayor Stephen Santellana said. “We were able to get a lot of the problems that we thought we had or any suggestions from council out in the open so we are not here on the last day having a four or five hour meeting trying to discuss these things.”

The overall budget for the city will increase by about $40 million, with property taxes lowering by almost 9%, and an increase of about 5% percent to your water bill. The decision for all of these was mainly fueled by one thing.

“40-year historic inflation,” Williams said. “Inflation is affecting every operation of the city as it is for every individual in Wichita Falls. That definitely pushed up an increase in our budget on the expenditure side.”

Because city staff gave budget information to both city council and the public a week earlier than previous years, they were able to address any concerns and consider any changes that were given so when the final plan was presented Tuesday, it was a smooth process.

“As you saw today, nobody really showed up because I think people saw that rate and felt comfortable with it instead of being up here and trying to debate us on it,” Santellana said. “We anticipated a four-five hour meeting but none of the public showed up, which shows you we got a lot of things done early. Plus, I think citizens are agreeing with that rate.”

The 2023 budget begins Oct. 1. That’s when residents will see changes to their bills. For city staff and council, they plan to approach the budget process like this moving forward because of how fluid and smooth the process went this year.