Amarillo City Council finalizes 2023-2024 budget and tax rate

New positions for the Amarillo Police Department, Amarillo Fire Department and increased funding for street and drainage projects are among the priorities in the City of Amarillo 2023/2024 fiscal year budget.

This past Tuesday, the Amarillo City Council gave final approval to the 2023/2024 budget and ad valorem property tax rate. 

The budget is $531 million with an ad valorem tax rate of $0.39195 per $100 of property valuation, which funds $65 million of the city budget. 

“I think this process has brought staff and council close together with a willingness to work together and evaluate the budget process for all departments.

“This is a very solid budget; it should reflect the goals, importance and priorities of the community, considering what effect it will have on individual citizens.

“Voters stressed public safety and improving city infrastructure such as streets," Amarillo Mayor Cole Stanley said. 

The 2023/2024 budget includes:

A reduction in the property tax rate for city operations by $1 million to issue $13.3 million for street projects and other projects. These projects include funding for the N.E. 24th Railroad Overpass Project and the Barrio S.E. 10th Streetscape Improvement Project.

Four new police officers for APD and three new district chiefs for AFD. Additional APD positions include a new crime scene technician, evidence technician and forensic video technician. The Amarillo Emergency Communications Center will have three new positions.

A total of $33 million for water and sewer projects. There will not be a rate increase for residential customers with typical water meters (meters of 5/8” or 1”). 

All other meters and tiered usage customers will have a 6 percent increase.

A total of $46 million for drainage projects. The typical residential customer will have a $1.58 per month increase in drainage utility fees to fund projects to improve the city’s drainage infrastructure.

The city will implement a dedicated dumpster replacement program for trash service. The single-family residential rate for trash service will increase $1.70 per month. The residential rate increase was held to a minimum due to a rate increase to commercial customers and landfill fees.

In order to address future needs as identified to council by the community, a total of $4.5 million is allocated for future city priorities.

One area organizations saw a major cut to its budget.

The Amarillo Economic Development Corporation saw a decrease in funding by $717,000. AEDC is receiving $3,503,340 for the 2023-24 fiscal year. 

Also seeing a major budget cut was the WT EnterPrize Challenge. The WT EnterPrize Challenge received $380,000, a decrease of $200,000.

Stanley said the decrease in funding for AEDC and the WT EnterPrize Challenge came after discussion in the recent budget workshops.

“One of the items that came up in that AEDC budget workshop was the previous years that the WT EnterPrize Challenge hadn’t been able to distribute all of the money.

“So based upon that, there was a decision by the Council to reduce the money for this one year, which was reduced by $200,000. So, we’ll have less to hand out this year, which I think makes it a little bit more appealing for those companies in those small business startups that are going after those funds to put their best foot forward for those grants.

“I think overall, it’ll still have the same positive impact that we need to see in our small business and our entrepreneurial programs.

“So, if there’s less money out there for people to go and get, I think they’ll compete harder to get it. Then those that are awarded that money, I think we’ll see even more, I’d say, return out of those businesses on that funding," Stanley said.

Councilmember Les Simpson made an effort to amend the AEDC’s budget to restore the $200,000 in reduced funding to the EnterPrize program.

“I am extremely supportive of small business and think that small business is crucial to our community. One of the key principles I ran on was that we as a city need to say yes to business. We need to do things to help and encourage business in the community."

“If you look at the track record of the EnterPrize Challenge over the last 26 years, I think it has proven to be a good investment with its support of local businesses.

“I would have liked to have seen the continuation of the full funding of the Challenge. There have been many benefits to local businesses over the years from this Challenge. There are not that many resources for small business, and I feel like this has been a great investment for the community," Simpson said.

Even with the budget cuts, AEDC President and CEO Kevin Carter said that he’s grateful for the Council approved $380,000 for funding for the EnterPrize Challenge.

“As we move forward, this will be the 27th year of the EnterPrize Challenge, and we’re excited about the applicants that will be applying and I know that we will have some worthy recipients when the winners are announced after the first of the year, Carter said.

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