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Unlike many organizations, the City of Coppell's fiscal year does not coincide with the calendar year. Instead, the City's fiscal year runs from October 1 to September 30. The City's annual budget planning process begins in early March, ramps up in July, and runs through September, when the budget is formally adopted by City Council.
The City of Coppell prides itself on being fiscally responsible and transparent, and the City continuously receives accolades from outside agencies regarding its financial planning and prudent budgeting practices. The City strongly encourages residents to get involved, attend public meetings, and provide feedback on the proposed budget.
"Our goal when it comes to the budget is to balance fiscal responsibility while making smart investments in the future and continuing to deliver the quality services and programs we are known for," said Cayce Lay, Budget Officer for the City of Coppell.
What happens during the Budget Process?
In March of each year, City departments begin to prepare their operating budget requests and capital or non-routine budget requests, which are requests for items or services over $10,000, such as public safety vehicles. During this time, City staff makes adjustments to their routine operating budgets, acquire pricing for enhancements, and update their annual goals. In mid-April, all documents and requests are turned in to the Finance Department for review.
In April, the City also holds a Town Hall meeting for the public. Staff presents their current projects and major projects planned for the upcoming fiscal year. During the Town Hall, residents are encouraged to ask questions and provide feedback on things that they would like the City to include in the budget.
In May, the Finance Department and the City Manager's Office meet with all departments to discuss budget requests and clarify any questions. After these meetings, the budget begins to take shape.
The directors of all City departments meet towards the end of May or beginning of June each year to review the proposals, prioritize requests and incorporate the goals established by City Council. The Finance Department then develops a rough draft of the budget.
In July, the City Manager's Office and the Finance Department present the proposed draft budget to City Council. The budget is presented in three separate sessions, or workshops, that are open to the public. During the first workshop, which takes place on July 8, 2019, a public hearing on the Crime Control and Prevention District budget is held. After the Public Hearing, staff presents the proposed budgets for the Water and Sewer Fund and Special Revenue Funds.
During the second workshop, held on July 22, 2019, City Council will review the Debt Service and General Fund budgets. The General Fund comprises approximately half of the City's total operating budget, and it includes the bulk of the City's normal operating cost. During this workshop, the City Council also discusses staff's estimated property tax rate.
By July 25 of each year, the City receives the certified property values from the appraisal districts, which are used to calculate the property tax bills. Once the City has access to these values, staff adjusts the budget to reflect the certified rates.
During the last workshop, this year on July 29, staff presents the Debt Service and General Fund budget based on the certified values. Staff also presents any changes to the tax rate.
While the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 2 – also known as the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act – in 2019, the majority of the bill provisions, including new tax rate calculations, do not go into effect until January 1, 2020. Therefore, this new legislation, which calls for an election if the City wishes to raise property tax revenue by more than 3.5%, does not affect the FY 2019-2020 budget.
Per City Charter, the proposed budget is filed on August 5 of each year, and the document becomes available for public review. During the last regularly scheduled City Council meeting in August, this year on August 27, two public hearings are held to allow residents to provide feedback on both the tax rate and the proposed budget. If necessary, City Council may call a special meeting to hold another public hearing to discuss the tax rate.
Finally, the budget is approved and formally adopted by City Council during the first regularly held meeting in September, which is scheduled for September 10.