Residents of Denison could see their property taxes decrease going into the 2020-2021 fiscal year.


As a part of its ongoing budget discussions, the city of Denison is proposing a property tax rate of of $0.65034 — the same rate it approved for the current fiscal year. This rate will help support the $29.68 million budget that is being proposed for the 2020-2021 fiscal year.


"We’ve had discussions before, but I wanted to give you some update and as always these numbers may change," Denison Finance and Administrative Services Director Renee’ Waggoner referred to the budget.


Both the budget and the proposed tax rate are expected to be approved during the first city council meeting on September, ahead of the end of the fiscal year.


The proposed tax rate is below both the voter-approval rate, which is the rate that would require Denison residents to approve the rate in a vote, and the no-new-revenue tax rate, which is what the city would need to adopt in order to maintain the same revenue based on existing properties.


Despite maintaining the lowest of the three rates, Waggoner said the city will see a modest increase in revenues for 2020-2021. The city currently estimates that it will see its tax revenues increase by $101,473.


This modest increase, can be attributed to a $524,000 increased in revenues from new properties that have been added to the tax roll this year.


Waggoner said the decision to maintain the current tax rate represents a level of conservatism and caution by the city staff as they move into new territory under Senate Bill 2, which introduced new tax reforms and caps on municipal property tax revenue increases.


By maintaining the same rate, Waggoner said staff can get more familiar with the current climate under these changes and better understand future revenue generation.


Based on the rates proposed by Denison and other taxing entities, residents could see their property taxes decrease in the next fiscal year. Based on the rates proposed by Denison, the Denison Independent School District, Grayson County and Grayson College, property taxes on a home with an average value of just over $135,000 could see modest savings of $73.09.


With regard to the budget, Waggoner said she anticipates a flat budget going into the new year, with revenue and expenses nearly even.


"We are anticipating pretty much a flat year next year and general fund with revenues over expenditures by about 16,000," she said.


The proposed budget includes a 2 percent increase in pay for staff, and the creation of a new animal services officer, communication specialist and code compliance officer positions.


The city will also return $169,000 to Parks and Recreation for programs, activities and maintenance. This funding was initially cut as a part of budget-saving efforts amid expected budget shortfalls due to the COVID-19 pandemic.


"We had asked all staffs to cut their expenses for the current year and next year and we have retained some of those cuts, but with Parks and Recreation we have returned a chunk of those funds," Waggoner said.


Michael Hutchins is the local government reporter for the Herald Democrat. He can be reached at mhutchins@heralddemocrat.com.