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City Budget Maintains Current Tax Rate

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The Germantown Board of Mayor and Aldermen approved the budget for the 2020 fiscal year last week on first reading. A handful of amendments will be considered on second reading at the board’s June 10 meeting, which will include a public hearing.

The budget keeps the current property tax rate at $1.95 per $100 of assessed value. The budget for the 2019 fiscal year included a reduction in the property tax rate from $1.97 to $1.95.

It also “maintains or improves core service levels and continues the city’s investment in public safety, education and infrastructure.”

The budget includes $5 million for renovations and an addition at Houston Middle School. For the second year, $1.5 million will be committed to improving the heating and cooling system at Riverdale.

The Germantown Municipal School District is slated to receive the “entire amount requested for security improvements and a $200,000 payment toward the city’s committed funding of the Houston High School field house project.”

The first phase of the field house project will include a 12,480-square-foot athletic field house. A band hall expansion is slated for the second phase and a 14,000-square-foot performing arts building and concession stand would be completed in the last two phases.

Additional crossing guards and school resource officers have also been approved at the new Forest Hill Elementary, which is scheduled to open in August.

The budget allows the city to hire an additional six police officers and the “equipment necessary to add them to the force.”

The Germantown Fire Department has been approved to buy a new ambulance and will also receive funding to maintain the six firefighter/EMTs hired earlier this year.

An additional $800,000 has been added to the street paving budget. City officials said Germantown will also “leverage over $6.6 million in state and federal funds for improvements to major roads and intersections.”

“Administration was able to present a balanced budget, which includes these significant investments without a tax increase and with just an 8 percent increase in expenses over the fiscal year 2019 budget. Revenue growth resulting from economic development activity continues to help alleviate the city’s significant dependence on property tax revenue. In fiscal year 2019 to date, local option sales tax revenues are up 11 percent with occupancy tax up 2 percent.”

Amendments to the budget include: $300,000 in funding to the Oaklawn Garden renovation and $200,000 for street paving. In recent years, Oaklawn Garden has received the status of Arboreta Level I from the Tennessee Urban Forestry Council and has become an official site for the Nature Conservancy of Tennessee’s “If Trees Could Sing” program.

Board members are also seeking to fund school safety improvements from the Federal School Violence Prevention Grant.

Another amendment “specified a list of GPAC Grove-related expenses to be funded by the $2.5 million state grant the project received earlier this month. The grant and resulting amendment changes the funding source for close to $1 million from city revenues to grant funds. These amendments will be incorporated into the proposed budget to be considered again upon second reading.”

The third and final reading of the budget will be on June 24.

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