Professional development remained at the forefront of the city’s priorities this year. Ninety-three employees graduated from the inaugural Professional Development Program with UTRGV and Effective Motivational Leadership program. The City is continuing with PDP Classes 3 and 4 in 2021.
To check out the latest job opportunities, click here.
Renew and Reimagine Brownsville: Fiscal Year 2021
First Tax Reduction in 10 Years
For the first time in more than a decade, our community will see a property tax rate reduction. This reduction, of approximately 0.26 cent, to 0.697964 per $100 valuation, will mean a decrease in the average homeowner’s property tax bill of $2.67. Despite the pandemic challenges, a consecutive increase of approximately 6% in the city’s taxable valuation, conservative budgeting, and forward planning allowed us to meet our financial commitment while providing tax relief to the community.
Five-Year General Fund Financial Forecast
Staff completed the City’s first five-year General Fund Financial Forecast during the 2020 fiscal year. Their work was supported by the Budget Committee for the adoption of policy statements, now part of the 2021 fiscal year budget strategies. Over time, the intent is for property and limited sales taxes to become the predominant revenue sources for General Fund’s recurring expenditures. The City also increased the General Fund reserve policy to 90 days, which means that the City must maintain a balance in the fund that could cover 90 days worth of expenses in case of a loss of revenue. This 90-day standard meets the best practices recommended by the Government Finance Officers Association. It also provides further financial stability and the ability to use surplus funding for capital projects upon reaching the new threshold, supporting the expansion of our pay-as-you-go strategy. Based on the projected fund balance for the General Fund at the end of the 2020 fiscal year Sept. 30, we will exceed the 90-day requirement at $32.8 million, or 109 days.
To see the full Five Year Financial Forecast, click here.
The Fiscal Year 2021 Annual Budget
Combined revenues for the City of Brownsville total $151.9 million. Personnel costs represent 69.1% of the total General Fund budget, with Police and Fire/EMS comprising 69.3% of total personnel costs. The total revenue and expenditure (expense) operating budgets for all funds is $141,998,916 and $155,155,298, respectively.
The 2021 fiscal year budget continues prioritizing projects that align with community priorities, professional development, and process improvements through investment in technology. This year’s budget is reflective of an organization that became more agile and data-driven through technology in a post COVID-19 world. The transition began in FY2020 with proven budget adjustments. The City continues to assert our citizens in the services to them and the cost borne by them, preserving the amenities they expect, initiating projects they deserve, and lowering the ad valorem tax rate where they invest.
- Ringgold Civic Pavilion. The City created a transition plan for the closure of the Ringgold Pavilion, which will be implemented in FY2021 to support the Brownsville Children’s Museum’s expansion needs. The City will reassign resources in response to COVID-19 trends.
- Sales Tax Policy. In FY2021, the City amended sales tax accrual to a 60-day based method. This will allow full accrual of the 12-month fiscal year, whereas sales tax payments were not collected before September. Therefore, the City collected thirteen (13) months of sales tax in FY2020, generating an estimated $2.1 million of unanticipated revenue that will be used for one-time projects in FY2021. This includes innovative projects such as technology applications to modernize or improve our efficiency.
- Contingency Fund (Cares). Another tactic utilized in FY2021 is a sales tax contingency fund using CARES Act funding. Based on the estimated reimbursements, we are proposing to earmark $3.9 million for projected sales tax losses up to 15% in FY2021.
To see the full budget for fiscal year 2021, click here.
Implementation of Phase II Compensation Study
In early 2020, the City of Brownsville implemented the second and final phase of the City of Brownsville Compensation Study. This included providing longevity pay for qualifying employees who had been in their existing positions since 2014. This study, completed by Management Advisory Group Inc. in 2014, had only been partially implemented years prior.
City Commission Strategic Vision
The Strategic Visioning report was finalized in early 2020. The goals outlined in the report guide city management and staff as they create work plans and begin new projects. The City of Brownsville had engaged with Strategic Government Resources to facilitate a Governance & Strategic Visioning Retreat with the City Commission and Senior Leadership in 2019.
During the session, local governance norms were reviewed and discussed, and organizational and community directional issues were identified. The City established Commission Pillars based on the focus areas that were identified by the Commission during the visioning sessions. The organization’s work plans ensure that work is aligned with these commission pillars.
First BTX Media Luncheon
In February 2020, the City of Brownsville’s Communication and Marketing Department hosted its first BTX Media Luncheon, a networking opportunity for the City, Brownsville Television and local media.
The Communications & Marketing Department was created in November of 2019 to develop and implement comprehensive and dynamic communication and marketing strategy for the City of Brownsville.
Brownsville Receives National Recognition
BROWNSVILLE, Texas (September 12, 2019) – In an article published by City Lab, Brownsville, Texas was ranked one of the Best Cities to Live, Based on Salaries and Cost of Living.
The Communications and Marketing Department won two prestigious international awards in Print Media and Design for excellence in public awareness and creativity. The “BTX Cares” campaign received the Gold MarCom Award of 2020, earned for creating a brand that communicated effectively with the community during the pandemic and for being easily identified with reliability in every application.
In May, the Communications and Marketing Department created the “Give Me Some Space” campaign—inspired by the City of Brownsville’s newest venture in space exploration and referencing COVID-19 social distancing guidelines—taking home the Gold Hermès Award of 2020. CMD also received a Platinum Hermès Creative Award in recognition of its COVID-19 crisis communications response work.
City Modernizes Website
In April 2020, the City of Brownsville website underwent an entire redesign— modernizing in look, style and mobility. This project was completed in December, consolidating 31 departments into 19, updating design and layout— consistent with the City of Brownsville’s new branding guide.
The City of Brownsville also transitioned to a new .GOV email domain, removing cob.us. The new site provides a clean, uniform look while maintaining user-friendliness.