Sugar Land City Council approved the fiscal year 2019 budget of $247.35 million and a 2018 tax rate of 31.762 cents on Sept. 18.
The adopted tax rate funds the city manager’s recommended fiscal year 2019 budget, including $28.32 million in capital improvement projects, with amendments requested by city council during budget workshops. Changes made during the budget workshop process include accelerated funding for public safety training facilities and drainage improvements.
The tax rate of 31.762 cents is the same rate as the prior year and remains the second lowest in the state for cities over 60,000 in population. The residential tax burden is further minimized by the city’s 10 percent homestead exemption, and the city of Sugar Land makes up only 15 percent of the average residential tax bill.
The city manager’s proposed budget was presented in July based on council-approved financial management policies that direct the budget to be prepared around a 3 percent increase in property tax revenues. The adopted rate is 2.63 percent higher than the effective tax rate – which is the tax rate that generates the same revenue as the prior year. This is the second year in a row the budget has been constrained to reflect revenue growth of less than 3 percent. As such, the budget continues many of the budget reductions implemented in fiscal year 2018 to manage the city’s finances within conservative revenue estimates. The city council also requested minor changes to the fiscal year 2019 operating budget that resulted in a net decrease of approximately $60,000 from the filed budget.
Overall, the budget focuses on strengthened resiliency and innovative constraint. Investments in public safety infrastructure are included to help first responders provide critical response and care, while investments in equipment and training ensure their safety. Targeted funding for increased rehabilitation of city facilities and infrastructure consistent with a multi-year plan proposed last year, as well as drainage improvements to further protect the community and a new enterprise resource planning system to help improve accountability and transparency of city data systems, is also included.
The remaining park projects from the 2013 voter-approved general obligation bond referendum were not added to the final budget and may be considered for funding in future year budgets.