The city of Germantown is proposing to maintain its $1.95 property tax rate for the 2020-21 budget year.

The Board of Mayor and Aldermen must adopt the tax rate on three readings and are scheduled finish the process before Sept. 1. Aldermen had their first formal review of the budget in a virtual session Wednesday evening. The budget process was delayed with a continuing resolution approved in May.

The $56.1 million operating budget is about $3 million slimmer than the 2019-20 budget.

Last year, the city adopted a $59.4 million operating budget. Estimates show the city used about  $56.6 million in the 2020 fiscal year and received about $1.3 million less than expected from federal and state funds. Although sales tax was slightly lower due to the pandemic, its effect was minimal on the overall budget.

Hotel occupancy and state sales tax were also down. Royals said it gave her a “baseline” so she then could develop the 2020-21 budget.

“These are the taxes in our budget that have been most impacted by COVID,” Patrick Lawton, city administrator, said noting many places were shut down.

Due to expected decreases in revenue, the city delayed some projects and reduced some spending.

Germantown police and fire departments will receive step pay increases, but city employees will not receive merit increases as part of the proposed budget. A grant totaling more than $800,000 from the state will help fund infrastructure replacement projects.

“Having these funds directly from the state of Tennessee is going to allow us to do some things that perhaps might have been cut from the budget,” Lawton said.

He added the city was aware of the money before the pandemic caused problems for revenues. 

The city will also receive $1.2 million from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act, but it must be used for virus-related expenses. Royals said the funds may go to general services and information technology departments. The city could use it for social distancing reminders or help purchase tools for employees working remotely, she added.

Aldermen also reviewed capital improvements endorsed by the Financial Advisory Commission last week.

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