Columbia Reduces Property Tax Rate

Columbia Reduces Property Tax Rate and Adopts Budget
Posted on 06/18/2018
FY 2019 Budget

The Columbia City Council approved Ordinance No. 4192, the FY 2018–19 municipal budget, and the FY 2018-19 annual property tax levy for 2018 property taxes, Ordinance No. 4191, on Thursday, June 14. Staff took a conservative approach towards estimating revenues for the annual budget. The FY 2018-19 budget includes nine (9) operating funds. Totaling $70.7 million, all funds, the budget as adopted is a balanced budget funded without an increase in the property tax as well as no increased fees.

The Maury County Assessor of Property recently completed a 4-year countywide reappraisal. Having received the updated certified tax rate from the Assessor of Property, the City Council adopted the certified tax rate of $1.1597 per $100 in assessed value. The current budget year, the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018, property tax rate is $1.44. The certified tax rate adopted Thursday represents an approximately $0.28 decrease per $100 in assessed value for Columbia property owners.

The City Council adopted a budget that provides strategic investments in public safety and services that protect Columbia citizens. The FY 2018-19 budget prioritizes funding public safety personnel. The budget funds one (1) new sworn police officer and the conversion to twelve-hour shifts for all sworn police officers in the Columbia Police Department. The combination of twelve-hour shifts and the hire of a new sworn officer allows the city to schedule an increased number of police officers on the streets each day. The budget also includes a new system for school-zone flashing lights, due to the aging system’s need for replacement and the city’s commitment to safe streets for Columbia residents.

The city has experienced more than three (3) years of record residential development as year over year population growth rates continue to grow. The FY 2018-19 budget funds new, up-to-date software for building and property maintenance codes administration, replacing software more than 20 years old. The new software will allow the Development Services Department to focus increased staff resources on inspections and codes administration, ensuring the safety of Columbia citizens. The new codes software also provides residents and local businesses with improved services as the city continues to work towards implementing web-based and online services during the coming and subsequent years, a strategic plan objective.

With increased residential and commercial growth, the FY 2018-19 budget includes funding for key investments in transportation and streets infrastructure. The City Council approved $1.3 million in funds for the city’s biannual street paving program. The $1.3 million dedicated to street paving includes more than $200,000 in new state gas tax revenues dedicated to streets. The FY 2018-19 street paving budget represents the largest amount of funds budgeted for street paving and resurfacing.

The annual budget includes funds programmed for the city’s second year marketing plan. The city’s tourism and marketing program is financed utilizing tourism enhancement funds from hotel/motel tax revenues. Tourism enhancement funds are budgeted to finance the city’s tourism marketing program, historic markers and beatification for Downtown Columbia. More than $30,000 in tourism enhancement funds were carried forward from the current year for the completion of Firefighters Park. Currently under construction at the gateway to the Columbia Arts District, the park site under development will be located adjacent to Columbia Fire Station No. 1 near the city’s monumental, two sided mural.

The city’s Capital Improvement Program totaled $18.7 million for multi-year projects including the Ridley Sports Complex expansion ($5.8 million), more than $7 million for major transportation projects programmed for FY 2018-19 and Wastewater System upgrades totaling $3.6 million. The budget continues funding for the city’s capital equipment replacement schedule with capital equipment purchases planned for the fiscal year beginning July 1, 2018 with over $2.9 million in equipment replacements and upgrades.

The budget was adopted following from extensive meetings with city departments and multiple public meetings with the City Council. Staff presented proposed programs, initiatives and the city’s Wastewater Enterprise Fund budget proposal at the April 5
th study session. On May 7th, the City Council convened for a special budget study session to review the proposed operating budget, followed by the first reading of the FY 2018-19 budget at the May 10, 2018 Regular Meeting.  Following from comments and direction provided by the City Council, staff presented the final FY 2018-19 as amended for a public hearing and second, final reading at the Thursday, June 14th City Council Regular Meeting.

The FY 2018-19 budget includes strategic, long-term investments aimed at increasing quality of life and providing superior municipal services for Columbia residents and local businesses.  The 2018 Strategic Plan,
Columbia 2017-2033-2032, was also adopted as the city’s official Strategic Plan at the June 14th Regular Meeting.  The FY 2018-19 budget includes a new section, “Strategic Plan Funding” which demonstrates the City Council’s commitment to long-range, strategic planning as a key element to the city’s annual business plan. Ultimately, the annual budget serves as a business plan that funds existing service levels and provides the resources needed to continue the city’s proactive approach towards managing and facilitating growth, providing high quality of life amenities and planning for a bright future for Columbia citizens and local businesses.

During the next week, the FY 2018-19 budget book will be sent to the printer for publication and distribution to the City Council. An electronic version of the budget is available here, and hard copy budgets have been distributed to the City Council and available upon request.