City Manager's Message

2021-2022 Annual Budget

Honorable Mayor, City Council Members and Residents

City of White Settlement, Texas

To the City of White Settlement:

I am pleased to present to you the adopted Fiscal Year 2021-2022 Annual Budget. This years’ budget represents months of hard work from the finance team, department directors, and managers. This budget continues the management team's dedication to adopting a sustainable balanced budget. One that aligns with the City's goals of safety for its’ residents, improvement and increased infrastructure, and growth based on the City’s Comprehensive Plan.


Just like most of the world, the City of White Settlement was affected by the 2020 pandemic and this shaped the plans and implementation of the 2019-2020 & 2020-2021 budgets, but 2021-2022 budget has seen improvements and has allowed the City to bring back some of the services and programs cut in the previous budgets. I would like to highlight what the City has accomplished below.


We have a lot to be proud of:


• Commercial development within the City has brought several new businesses to town with many already under construction and several promising ones still finalizing plans.

• Implemented our new Employee Handbook and as well as several Financial policies.

• Implement many new technology projects with the aid of CARES Act funds including payment kiosks, VOIP phone system, City App, and added a document management module to our financial/payment software.

• Utilized a public relations firm to help create videos highlighting departments of the City.

• Added back the laid off Code Officer to lighten the load of the Marshal's Office and provide consistent code compliance throughout the Community.

• Remodeled City Hall to create a central lobby for customers.

• Started our sign replacement program in the Streets department to replace and update street signs throughout the City.

• Hired a 3rd party consultant to assess best practices within the Police Department.

• Upgraded servers at the Police Department.

• Rewired generator that services the Fire Department and City Hall for a more complete backup system following winter storm.

• Completed standing up a full-time Fire Department.

• Added ADA enhancements at City Hall and Library and fencing around the new playground in the Municipal Complex.

• Re-Opened the Library and Senior Center to the public.

• Added vending machines to the concessions areas in the parks utilizing CARES Act funds and added lighting controls to Veterans Park.

• Celebrated our best season at the Splash Dayz Water Park.

• Completed commercial meter and transmitter replacements and started on residential replacement program.

• Completed McEntire water, sewer, and storm water replacement project.

• Completed Clifford sewer and street replacement project.

• Completed three (3) overlay projects.

• Completed 341 & Bolliger Site 1 storm water project.

• Finalized Tarrant County and Tarrant County College District participation in newly created TIRZ.


What's Next:


The 2021-2022 budget presents opportunities and challenges that our city staff members and elected officials are committed to turning into successful results for our residents. Taking into account the events of the past couple of years. (a pandemic, and winter storm event) The City’s outlook for the future is positive with some apprehension towards investments and unexpected expenses. The financial goals of the City will remain the same as they have for the past several years. We will continue to maintaining a sustainable budget, one that is balanced, and takes a conservative approach to spending tax payer dollars. The City’s ability to put our residents needs first, and provide basic municipal services to our residents will be our focus for the upcoming year. Our focus will revolve around proactively addressing concerns with public safety, (Police and Fire) the City’s infrastructure, (which includes water, sewer, and street maintenance) and new business investment along Hwy 30 and Hwy 820.


Highlights


Property Taxes


For the Fiscal Year 2021-2022, the City increased the M&O rate and lowered the I&S rate for the second year in a row. As a result, the City was able to lower the overall tax rate for residents. The demand for affordable housing in Tarrant County continues to contribute to the increase in housing values in the City of White Settlement. Throughout the City, the average home owner has experienced an increase in their property value for the last few years. This increase in taxable values adds additional pressure to residents for higher tax payments, even though the city has lowered the property tax rate. The City has considered the viability of adjusting exemptions for residents but thus far our analysis has proven such exemptions would not be sustainable for long term growth of the City. City staff is committed to finding options to lessen the tax burden on residents while still maintaining and growing services for all the members of our community.


Sales Taxes


As a continued result of the pandemic, the business recovery has been slow thus we are taking a very conservative approach to the estimates for the fiscal year 2021-2022. The areas of development we hope will attract new sales tax generating businesses will be located next to the I 30 Hwy at the Las Vegas Trail exit and Hwy 820 and White Settlement Road exit. These critical intersections are also located in the newly establishment “TIRZ” in the City. The purpose of the TRIZ is to encourage business growth and increase the sales tax revenues. Our goal is to take some pressure off of both residential and commercial property tax payers. The history of sales taxes has been volatile over the last 10 to 15 years and remains a concern. However, we believe that this volatility will stabilize in the near future due to the aggressive approach we are taking to recruiting new businesses to our community.


Utility Rates


The City continued current water & sewer rates to assist customers with maintaining current costs during the pandemic and we will continue the approach throughout the Fiscal Year 2021-2022. The City is however, looking into gradually implementing the storm water rate study performed by our 3rd party consultant with the understanding that a gradual increase is needed to ensure future projects and growth of the fund.


Expenditures


The City of White Settlement will continue to make public safety its highest priority, with 53.8% of the General Fund budgeted expenditures going towards this important area.


Currently, the Water and Sewer Fund balance is healthy, but the growing infrastructure needs of the water and sewer system continue to increase due to the worrisome situation of our current system. Over 80% of the system is 40 years old or older and has reached the end of its recommended life cycle. In response to this infrastructure need and new regulatory obligations, the City has developed a 4-year “C.I.P” plan to help address several immediate concerns. The City is also working with engineering consultants and other outside sources to develop processes and policies that focus on and strengthen the Public Works Department.


Major Projects


Major Projects & Personnel Changes


Infrastructure Projects

  • Kimborough water, sewer, and street project
  • Mirike water, sewer, and street project
  • Gibbs water, sewer, and street project (Las. Vegas Trail to Kimborough)
  • Tacoma & Colton sewer project
  • Clyde (National Guard) stormwater project
  • Downe (Cherry to Meadow Park) Overlay
  • Western Hills (Meadow Park to Mary Kay) Eastbound Overlay
  • Mary Kay Overlay
  • Danny Overlay

Other Projects

ARPA Funded Items


  • Council Chambers Technology Upgrade
  • Open Gov Financial Planning & Transparency Software
  • Personnel (COVID layoffs)

Other Projects

  • City Hall HVAC Control System
  • Police Roof Recoating
  • Municipal Complex facade
  • Police Memorial (Monier)

Personnel Changes

  • 2nd Code Officer
  • PT Deputy City Secretary
  • Mental Health Officer (ARPA)
  • Athletic Coordinator (ARPA)
  • Senior Clerk PT (ARPA)
  • 2 Library Clerks PT (ARPA)
  • Recreation Specialist PT (ARPA)
  • Kennel Tech PT (ARPA)

The City management team, starting in 2018, decided to manage the City’s operating budget based on the balanced budget approach.


The City continues to work to reduce the General Fund's support of SplashDayz’ operating expenses and capital expenditures for park improvements and attractions. The budgeted contribution to the SplashDayz Budget has been significantly reduced from $1.3 million to $380 thousand for the 2020-2021 budgets; however, 2021-2022 has a budgeted increase to $580 thousand due to slides needing to be re-coated. This change has resulted from an increase in revenues of 15% through strategic marketing while concentrating on cost reduction in operating efficiencies.


The City has placed increased efforts into financial management policies, long-term financial planning, and implementation of a new comprehensive plan to maintain a healthy financial position for future success.


The Future


The City of White Settlement’s government is committed to the goal of creating a “community of choice” that people from all over the metroplex would choose to call home. The City will be addressing a variety of needs in addition to core services such as additional public safety person programs, planning and development improvements geared towards internal processes, and code enforcement programs focused on community areas of concern. With an increasing population of over 17,000 people, the City of White Settlement’s residents accept a safe, stable community where neighborhoods can thrive. A community where our infrastructure meets the needs of today but also is prepared for the demands of the future. A City where government is transparent, open, effective, and efficient for residents and guest who live, work and visit.


We have already taken action towards accomplishing these goals. City staff and our engineers in conjunction with residents, elected officials, businesses, and developers, have identify, prioritize, and in some cases have implement projects. These infrastructure projects focus on where repair or replacement is needed within our water and sewer system along with street improvements. The goals of these types of projects will be the continued attraction of commercial development such as restaurants along the TIRZ economic development zone and the development of commercial property adjacent to I 30 and 820 HWYs. Infrastructure projects will also contribute to the current and future success of residential housing remodel and new construction projects. The City is ideally located next to both the I30 and the 820 HWYs with this advantages location residents can live in the City and work almost anywhere in the county while experiencing a minimal commute time. Along with location housing affordability remains to be an important draw for residents of the City. With this reality in mind and the goal of contributing positively towards the quality of life the City’s residents experience the City will continue our successful residential certificate of occupancy inspections for single family homes, multi-family complexes and commercial properties. This program has contributed to reducing substandard living conditions throughout the city while helping to increase neighborhood appeal.


The City was able to provide a minor cost of living increase to the employees for the fiscal year 2021-2022. However, due to the city’s inability in the past to provide yearly cost of living raises and the effects of the COVID pandemic and the subsequent goods, materials, and worker shortfall the national economy is experiencing employee job satisfaction and salaries remain a concern. Staff is concerned that the recruitment and retaining of employees will continue to be difficult and may affect service levels to residents. We are bringing in more development both commercial and residential and this will help provide future revenues to fund personnel costs.


Summary


The 2021-2022 fiscal budget continues a sustainable balanced budget approach to plan for the future while maintaining continued fiscal conservancy to serve the community well for the coming years. While public safety continues to be a high priority, the City is also focusing on improving the aging infrastructure throughout the City.


I would like to thank the residents of White Settlement for their continued efforts to improve our City. I would like to thank the Mayor and City Council members for their continued commitment and efforts towards the advancement and success of our community. I would also like to express my gratitude to the many city employees who work towards the same vision of making the City of White Settlement a success.


Sincerely


Jeffrey J. James

City Manager