The Whole Foods effect: Frisco notes large sales tax revenue increases in 2015 budget
After years of putting off projects during the Great Recession, the town of Frisco has seen huge gains in its main funding sources.
The town’s budget for 2015, adopted by the town council at a regular meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 28, allots for about $14.1 million in revenues and $18 million in expenses.
The budget will be balanced, as required, because the roughly $4 million gap will be filled using the $12.8 million fund balance carried over from the previous year. The town also plans to add to its revenues by about $773,000 with the sale of assets including a house, some vehicles and equipment.
In the end, the town will have $10.3 million leftover in the fund balance to be carried over to the next year.
Residents and visitors will see no changes in tax rates.
About two-thirds of the overall budget comes from sales taxes, and that reliance on a volatile source of funding can be a challenge for the town during economic downturns. This year, however, the town hosted droves of visitors and reaped the benefits in revenues.
“The economy has turned around, and we’ve seen it in our sales tax,” said Bonnie Moinet, the town’s finance director.
The arrival of more retail businesses, including a few marijuana shops and grocery giant Whole Foods Market, also didn’t hurt.
Sales tax revenues from January through July grew by more than 13 percent compared to the same six-month time period in 2013. Lodging tax revenues grew by about 20 percent, and real estate investment fee revenues grew by about 23 percent.
Revenues from the Frisco Bay Marina, Frisco Adventure Park, community development and recreation have also shown significant increases in 2014 over 2013.
“We budget fairly conservatively,” Moinet said, and town employees have been happily surprised by all the revenue growth. “We’re just extremely pleased with the economy.”
The town expects the sales and lodging tax revenues to continue growing in 2015 though not by as much.
The Frisco Adventure Park, which completed its fourth season this year, brings in the second-most amount of revenue to the town’s general fund. After that, most revenue sources come from fees people pay for their water services or to use the marina.
The town plans to spend more money in 2015 on infrastructure upgrades and maintenance, including Phases II and III of the Step Up Main Street project as well as building a new well for the water system.
“We deferred a lot of projects over the years,” Moinet said.
In terms of labor costs, the town will add two full-time positions and three positions will be changed from part-time or seasonal to full-time.
The town instated a performance merit policy, in an effort to attract and retain employees, that allows individual staff members to earn a pay increase of up to 5.5 percent based on their performances.
Some physical goods the town will lease include two vans, a snowmobile, a snow fan gun and a cat loader.
Moinet said the 2015 budget, which will be posted on FriscoGov.com, was approved without any questions or comments from the town council members or the general public. In recent years, she said, Frisco has been trying to discuss government operations with residents through its online platform EngageFrisco.com without much success.
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