The City of Fate’s population has grown so quickly since 2000 – from 463 residents to 5,139 – that it now faces a serious problem. Fate just doesn’t have enough revenue to do what it needs to do to keep up with homeowner growth.
According to yesterday’s Dallas Morning News article by reporter Jay Parsons, the capital projects which need to be completed cost eight times the town’s operating budget, so it’s going to require some very creative financing measures by the City’s new mayor, city council and city manager to fund the projects.
Most cities depend heavily on commercial property tax and sales tax, because housing subdivisions don’t generate enough tax revenue to pay for the services they require. But Fate is not attracting new business because business owners would rather open in nearby Rockwall, and because of the slowdown in the economy.
Some of the problems listed:
A less than 3-year-old sewage treatment plant shared with Royse City is running close to capacity and will soon need a multimillion-dollar expansion.
Many older roads built to handle farm traffic are now torn up and too narrow. Deteriorating streets border well-manicured new subdivisions, creating sharp contrasts.
And City Hall – a narrow downtown storefront – is so small the City Council leases a Masonic Lodge with poor acoustics for meetings.
Interim City Manager Trent Petty pretty well summarized the problem:
“We don’t have the revenue to do what we need to do. Even at double the tax rate [now 21.44 cents per $100 of property value], it’d be difficult for the city to meet service needs just for residential growth.”
“Without more commercial tax dollars, Fate will be hard-pressed to fund capital projects.”
“Fate officials have taken numerous steps to attract businesses but have little to show for it. Mr. Petty said he expects only one new business to open in the next year.”
Newly-elected Mayor Bill Broderick is quoted as saying he’s optimistic and confident that the City will accomplish whatever it needs to, but it will take time to attract businesses.
Mr. Broderick said the council just wants to get Fate to plan ahead and professionalize operations. Mr. Petty said he’s preparing the town’s first five-year plan, which includes basic infrastructure (roads, drainage and sewer) and facilities (City Hall and fire station).
“It’s a whole lot of catch-up from stuff that’s been allowed to slide,” Mr. Broderick said. “That’s why when I took over and sat down with [Mr. Petty], I just told him, ‘I want the emphasis placed on our city government structure and infrastructure.’ Get back to basics.”
Fate leaders said the town would find ways to fund the projects, perhaps by building small and looking to add on later, though that could cost more in the long term. Mr. Broderick said the council is also considering a 2009 bond election and may tap some reserves.
Maybe former Mayor David Hill just got out while the getting’s good!