Dayton proposes 3 cent tax hike in 2019 budget
The city of Dayton continues to recover from a dip in taxes revenue fueled by the oil slump a few years ago, but with a proposed rate increase for FY 2019, the city should come closer to recovery.
The new proposed tax rate is $0.6821 cent per $100 valuation, which is nearly 3 cents more that last year’s rate of $0.6557 cent per $100 valuation. The proposed rate is also just below the rollback rate of $0.6821 cent per $100 valuation.
The need to raise taxes was precipitated by the fall in oil prices and the downturn it caused in the economy, city officials said. The issues came to a head two years ago.
In 2017, the city ran a deficit budget when council decided not to raise the tax rate to the highest amount they could have without triggering a rollback election that year. City officials decided to keep the rate at 65 cents per $100 valuation to limit the pressure residents are facing with increasing valuations, city officials said.
“The main product in the rail cars are those plastic pellets made from petroleum. As the values go down, it goes down to the tune of $130 million,” said Assistant City Manager Rudy Zepeda.
He said the railyards hold as much as 40 percent of the city’s value.
The last two years, the city has been trying to get back on track with the recovery from that loss and that’s the reason for the 2.6 percent increase in the tax rate.
The increase would mean an additional $9.70 on a $100,000 home, Zepeda said.
The money would generate approximately $190,000 in new revenue for the city but would be used to help the city with coming growth.
Two new safety officers would be hired for the police department, two additional staff in the planning department to help expedite permits, and a full-time clerk would be added to the courts.
“We have streets that have a lot of accidents and it straps the police department to do the investigations and then at the same time try to patrol the neighborhoods,” said City Manager Theo Melancon. Adding staff would increase that ability. The city added two in the police department and two in planning last year as well.
“Public safety has been something we wanted to tackle in the community,” he said.
Zepeda also said that there would be another staff member added for IT.
“As we establish more locations and increase our network capability and make things more efficient, we need to have additional personnel to help support that technology infrastructure.”
A cursory comparison of the 2018 budget from last year to this year shows numerous changes, so much to the point it almost didn’t look the same.
Zepeda explained many of those were either budget amendments or changes made in the new software.
“Part of the adjustments have been because we’ve changed systems from Assist to Incode,” he said. “We’ve had to consolidate and we’re moving a lot of money into different categories to prepare for the Fiscal Year 2019.”
Zepeda said they were approved council changes from throughout the year 2018 now reflected in the 2019 budget proposal side-by-side.
There are some major benefits in the city moving to a new accounting system, one being tracking.
“One of the most important assets of an accounting system is that you can track every individual user with an audit trail,” he said. “I can look at any individual user and see what they have touched in the entire system. If they’ve changed, deleted, or included cash that they’ve received,” he said.
The former system, Assist, didn’t have those capabilities.
Zepeda said the new system isn’t as user-friendly, but it offers many more options.
“An accounting system is only as good as you’re able to produce reports out of it,” Zepeda said. In the old system, Zepeda had to manually generate the reports or extract into Excel.
“It makes it incumbent upon the system to generate the report and not the individual where there could be human error,” the assistant city manager said.
Some of the changes were intradepartmental while others were interdepartmental, but all necessary to be able to break down expenses and revenue within departments and produce reports.
Melancon said the city was preparing to do an in-house assessment of every street in the city.
“We’ll grade each street. This is an F street, or this is an A street. Then how do we get it on the capital improvement plan and address it in an orderly fashion,” he said.
They will also be in meetings with the school district to discern any impact on the city’s plan to extend Waco Street to 321.
“We think that would alleviate a lot of traffic in the middle of town,” Melancon said.
The budget and tax rate are expected to be approved at the next council meeting.