Council proposes tax rate, hears presentation on upcoming transpo bond

Aug. 24—The Weatherford city council moved a step closer Tuesday to finalizing the FY 2024 budget and property tax rate.

Director of Finance Dawn Brooks said the proposed budget had originally been built at a rate of $.3915 per $100 valuation, but with modifications, was raised to $.3990, or $.0275 higher than the no-new-revenue tax rate, and $.057 less than the FY 2023 property tax rate.

Resident Richard Heizer, in speaking during the public comment portion, praised the city for its efforts in being fiscally responsible, although he noted he was highly in favor of the no-new-revenue rate.

"There's a lot of taxpayers that this is a burden, and this is not the only taxing entity," he said, noting a 27% increase in his own taxes. "But I probably will accept the two cents."

The FY 2024 proposed budget includes $50.9 million in revenues from the general fund, with $50.9 million in expenditures, and is balanced with a surplus of $4,000.

The projected fund balance at the end of FY24 is $21 million, or 157 working days, Brooks said. Of that, $4.4 million will remain available outside of the 120-day reserve policy.

Roughly $21.1 million in sales tax makes up total revenues. Another $12.6 million comes from property taxes, with $1 million to be dedicated to public safety personnel. Mayor Pro Tem Heidi Wilder clarified that any unspent funds in safety personnel costs during FY24 would be applied to the fund balance.

Gross receipts and return on investments from utilities make up $7.7 million, of which $1.7 million will be dedicated to street repairs and maintenance.

Resident Robert Anderson questioned the process of how road improvements are selected, and whether or not there was any input from the public for projects.

Staff and council members, who were unable to respond during public comment, later addressed the issue, noting an Overall Condition Index score is conducted on every road in Weatherford for neighborhood revitalization projects. The OCI ranks streets as good (rating between 70 and 100 with little or no cracks and minor potholes); fair (between 40 and 69 with moderate cracking but adequate drivability) and poor (0-39 for streets with severe cracking and/or areas of failed pavement).

"That is a big influencer on where the dollars go, what they're used for and when they're used for," Mayor Paul Paschall said. "We are representatives of the citizen body and we do the very best we can to provide input to the city manager and the city team."

Councilmember Matt Ticzkus echoed Paschall's encouragement of public feedback and getting plugged in to what's going on with the city.

"I've had a number of phone calls from citizens, and sometimes those conversations are happening on a one-on-one basis and I'm always happy to do that," he said.

Council gave unanimous approval of the $.3990 proposed rate. A public hearing for the proposed tax rate will be held Sept. 12, followed by adoption and ratification of the budget. A copy of the proposed budget can be found online at

The council Tuesday also heard a presentation from county officials regarding a $130 million transportation bond residents will be voting on in November.

Parker County Judge Pat Deen noted that with the booming influx of people moving to the area, now is the time to commit to addressing future needs.

"What the dollar would buy today will be dramatically different than what a bond will buy three years from now," he said, noting of that amount, matching funds, if not more, could be available with a partnership through the council of governments, as well as TxDOT.

Chris Bosco, of the Freese & Nichols engineering firm, highlighted several projects in Precincts 2 and 3 that would benefit Weatherford residents directly.

Among them were the widening of Oakridge Drive, in reconstruction to a three-lane road with sidewalks near Mary Martin Elementary; traffic signal improvements at Ric Williamson Memorial Highway and Garner Road; extending Farm-to-Market 730 to align with Bankhead and provide access to the interstate from both directions; a bridge over 180 at Ric Williamson; adding two more lanes to Ric Williamson from 180 to Interstate 20; further developments for on/off ramps for I-20 between Bethel and Tin Top; and connecting BB Fielder to Ric Williamson to provide a parallel route to the interstate.

"With these on ramps, does that mean there's never a plan to expand I-20 into three lanes each?" Wilder asked.

Bosco clarified that the widening is a TxDOT project, with the entity currently in the design phase and construction several years out.

"That's one of the things we're trying to do with this program is get the frontage roads in," he said. "That relief will be critical [when construction begins]."

Precinct 3 Commissioner Larry Walden called it a good project that encompasses a larger scope of the county.

"I'm not for raising taxes, but I am for investing, paying $5 now to get $20 down the road," he said. "I'll make that trade every time."

In terms of financial impact on residents, Walden projected a roughly two-cent increase to the county's interest and sinking rate.

"With the previous two bonds, we've been able to absorb that because of the growth in our appraisal value," he said. "The net effect: taxes didn't go down, but they didn't go up either.

"We're looking forward to the same scenario. However, it will be advertised at worst-case scenario."

Bosco noted the priority of each project will be determined by a couple of factors, including which ones have already acquired right-of-way.

City Manager James Hotopp and council thanked officials for listening to the needs.

"You've got projects that were within the city's top 10 priorities," Hotopp said. "City residents are county residents, so they're seeing the investment of those dollars back in them."

County officials have planned more than a dozen upcoming town halls to provide more information on the bond and answer questions. For a schedule and more information, visit

In other business, council members voiced support in grant funding of several nonprofit agencies: CASA Hope for Children ($5,000), Weatherford Chamber of Commerce ($150,000), Children's Advocacy Center ($5,000), Doss Heritage Center ($30,000), Freedom House ($5,000), Love Weatherford ($5,000), Manna Storehouse ($5,000) and Parker County Committee on Aging ($5,000).

Funding comes from both the general fund and the Hotel/Motel fund. Applicants must go through a two-step "heads and beds" process, in answering if it brings people into the community that come for an event and will stay overnight, and if it improves facilities used or programs being offered by those organizations.

"As we sit today, the Doss is one of the only places that people can come and have large meetings, weddings, chamber events," Paschall said of the organization's request, which would be used for beautification of the grounds along with a matching grant by a private donor. "It's important that this match the quality that citizens expect."