Budget and Taxes
Let’s begin with the good news about taxes in Frisco. At $.45 per $100 valuation, Frisco enjoys one of the lowest tax rates in the entire region. It’s a wide range, but we’re $.0286 lower than Plano, which is at $.4786 and $.1175 lower than The Colony, which is at $.6675 per $100 valuation. It’s true that Plano also provides a homeowner exemption, but when the exemption is figured in, it’s basically a wash. It’s even possible due to the administrative costs created by an exemption, they would actually offset any savings; which should be a concern to all taxpayers.
Looking more closely at the breakdown of our tax components, it is clear that debt has an impact on our tax rate. However, that impact is significantly offset by how extremely well our departments and operations are managed. For example, the Frisco operating revenue is based on $.294052 per $100 valuation. This rate is $.061548 less than the next lowest surrounding city (Plano) that operates at $.3556 per hundred and the highest city (The Colony) that operates at $.51254 or $.218488 more than Frisco. That means, Frisco is managing its operations with 17% less than Plano and 43% less than The Colony.
On the debt side, Frisco finds itself in the same position as any other fast growing city. Our taxpayer funded debt is currently at $.155948 per $100 valuation. Despite our rapid growth, this tax rate puts us well below cities like Richardson, which is at $.25485 and McKinney at $.171231. However, debt is necessary for a city such as Frisco which has experienced sustained growth rate of 5% over the last several years.
Although Frisco citizens enjoy one of the lowest tax rates of any of our neighboring cities, we must remain vigilant. As a public servant to the citizens of Frisco, I am committed to ensuring quality development, establishing positive public/private partnerships that result in successful projects, and maintaining my conservative approach.
Although the City of Frisco is doing well, I will continue to pursue efficiencies where they can be identified. In my 35 year professional career, I have addressed these exact challenges for clients around the globe. My approach will encourage self-examination by all departments and look for opportunities to automate, integrate, and facilitate business process improvement through the utilization of technology. In other words, change the way people work to ensure they’re focused on the activities that deliver the most value.
With approximately 50% of the City’s operations budget devoted to public safety, I believe our efforts should be focused on other administrative staffing areas. Public safety must remain our number one priority, and we must always provide the necessary resources for our outstanding first responders. For the other areas of operations, our focus does not need to be on an immediate reduction in staffing levels, but instead we must continually look for opportunities to reduce the "rate" of hiring relative to our growth in population. In addition to these items, we must also continue to support current staff efforts to constantly evaluate and search for additional opportunities to improve the delivery of services to our citizens.
A breakdown of current staffing expenditures for each department is outlined below.
Some may ask, why are these actions necessary since our tax rate is comparatively low? But the fact is, as the city continues to grow and thrive, this places a tremendous burden on taxpayers through increased appraisal values and taxes. For example, despite reductions in the tax rate, the cumulative effective rate has grown by more than 38% over the past four years. A low tax rate is great, but we still need to continue to seek out ways to slow down the addition of staff relative to the city’s growing population as one of the key approaches to tax management.
Let me encourage you to read my other position statement on density, if you have not already done so. Outlining my position on density, I explained that as our population keeps on growing, that that growth as well as increased property values will fuel development in other areas. I believe that residential growth should be a combination of single family housing with a diverse mix of lot sizes and street orientation, as well as unique developments of mixed use such as entertainment, office, and retail with close proximity to the Dallas North Tollway. These commercial projects are particularly critical to meet the demands of potential opportunities and to attract prime jobs and employers. Developments created along the DNT corridor will increase our non-residential tax base, allowing the city to reduce the future burden on taxpayers, but will still allow us to focus on traffic congestion surrounding the toll road and reduce it in other areas of the community.
To summarize, here are my final comments on the subject of taxes and budget. As your next mayor, my promise is that I will protect your tax dollars and use them with as much fiscal restraint as possible without comprising the reputation that Frisco has earned as one of the best cities in the nation to live, work, and play. I will work hard to keep the tax burden on our citizens as low as possible, and I will not allow special interests to leverage your tax dollars to their benefit.