Editor’s Note: This is the fourth in a series of articles devoted to educating voters on issues regarding Proposition A, the Kerrville Town Bond election.
As voters prepare to head to the polls on May 7 to vote on Proposition A, the town of Kerrville’s bond election to fund a proposed 69,000 square foot public safety facility, questions still loom over the project finances and its potential impact on local property taxes.
Julie Behrens, Chief Financial Officer for the Town of Kerrville, was happy to sit down and explain these and other details regarding the bond election.
The proposed bond election to fund the public safety facility was recommended by a 10-person Citizens Committee, which studied the needs of the Kerrville Police Department, Kerrville Fire Department Administration and the Kerrville Municipal Court, the feasibility of constructing such a facility and the cost associated with construction. During the process, the committee also looked at the information technology department, given the extensive use of technological equipment in these public safety departments.
“A lot of IT time, more than 50% in fact, is spent in the KPD, KFD or City Court,” Behrens said, “that’s why it was considered an important part of the project. “
The committee recommended that the city council seek bond financing through a citizen election process for an amount not to exceed $45 million. The city council then put the matter to a special ballot on May 7 for the citizens to decide.
Behrens confirmed that citizens will vote on whether to authorize the city council to issue up to $45 million in general bonds to build and equip a public safety facility to house the KPD, KFD administration, the operations of the municipal court, as well as the city. IT department.
At a previous City Council workshop, City Manager EA Hoppe explained that the $45 million includes all furniture, fixtures and fittings, as well as a contingency amount to ensure the project does not exceed the budget.
“The $45 million includes all necessary furniture, fixtures and fittings,” Behrens said. “This includes all the technologies that will be required. When the project is complete, every staff member can come in and get to work right away.
“Keep in mind that FF&E (furniture, fixtures and equipment) also includes desks, chairs, tables, weight room equipment, dispatch equipment and all other furniture,” he said. -she adds. “It will be turnkey.
Behrens said the $45 million will also include land purchase, as well as project design, engineering and utility infrastructure needs.
“If approved, the debt for the project cannot exceed the specified dollar amount approved by voters,” Behrens said. “It’s like a homeowner asking for mortgage approval before buying a house.”
Ultimately, the city council will approve a final design and build contract for the project, if voters approve funding in May.
Impact on taxes
“As discussed at a City Council workshop and City Council meeting, as well as Public Safety Bond Committee meetings, the estimated impact on the overall local property tax rate is 3.3% for the average Kerrville homeowner. The average property in Kerrville is valued at $250,000. For this category, we estimate a tax increase of about $169 per year or about $14 per month, or 50 cents per day,” Behrens said. “The current property tax rate for the Town of Kerrville is 50.93 cents per $100 of assessed property value. If passed, the requirement would increase the tax rate by 6.6209 cents, or about 13% of the City’s rate. However, homeowners over 65 whose taxes are frozen will see no increase,” Behrens said. “Almost 30% of our local property tax base benefits from a seniors tax exemption.”
She explained that total local property tax rates are $2.04 per $100 of property value, to include all entities (Kerrville ISD, Kerr County, Upper Guadalupe River Authority, Headwaters Groundwater Conservation District), with only 51 cents of the $2.04 allocated to the Town of Kerrville.
To simplify the impact on the tax rate of the choice of bonds to fund the Public Security Facility, here are the highlights:
• The overall local property tax bill will increase by approximately 3.3%;
• The Town of Kerrville property tax rate would increase by approximately 13%;
• No increase in property tax for owners aged 65 or over, if they benefit from a tax exemption for seniors;
• The average increase (for owners with a value of $250,000) is $169 per year or $14 per month for owners whose taxes are not frozen.
If the bond passes, the estimated 6-cent property tax increase for the town of Kerrville would be the first increase in 12 years.
“We’ve actually been able to keep our property tax rate the same or lower for the past 12 years,” Behrens said.
She explained that higher-than-expected sales tax revenues allowed for property tax reductions in previous years and said sales tax revenues remain high. “Kerrville serves as a regional retail hub for the region, attracting customers from surrounding cities and counties to shop at our major retailers. Tourism also adds sales tax money to the city’s revenue stream, helping to maintain a low property tax rate.
“If you look at our two main sources of revenue, property tax and sales tax revenue, they are within six percent of each other and both support the general fund,” said said Behrens. “For 2022, property tax was budgeted at 35% of our overall revenue and sales tax was 28%. Although sales tax money is not used to pay down debt, these funds help offset the overall burden on property taxpayers for the utilities they receive from the City.
The breakdown of the proposed 69,000 square foot public safety facility is as follows:
• Kerrville Police Department (dispatch, training, emergency operations center, community hall) 36,700 sq. ft.;
• Municipal Court of Kerrville, 11,200 sq.ft.;
• Unfinished future expansion space for KPD, 8,200 square feet;
• Kerrville Fire Department Administration, 5,900 sq. ft.;
• Police Asset Support Building, 4,400 square feet;
• Information Technology Department, 2,500 square feet.
The current square footage used by the KPD, KFD administration and municipal court is 30,000 square feet.
“The facility is designed to allow for growth in the years to come,” Behrens said.
“Building a public safety building is not like building a commercial or residential structure,” Behrens said. “There are many regulations, required by law, that must be followed, primarily for safety reasons, such as hardening the structure to withstand cataclysmic natural disasters. Due to the nature of public safety operations, the building will be used 24/7/365 These factors determine the expected construction costs.
If the bond is accepted, Behrens said the city would begin the process of issuing the bonds this summer. A potential site has been selected for installation and contracted, subject to the outcome of the election.
Regarding construction costs, Hoppe said at a workshop in January that construction costs are continuously monitored.
“Our consultancy has been very clear that they feel confident in these estimates through the summer of 2023,” Hoppe said. “But beyond that, we don’t know. We are currently in a very dynamic construction environment. We are convinced that a project can be designed and built within the limits of the resources allowed by the community. »