Courthouse

Despite an $870,000 budget shortfall in the fiscal year 2020 budget, Winchester residents won’t be paying an increased property tax to make up the difference.

The City Council has unanimously approved two ordinance readings on the $7.87 million budget with the third and final vote to take place at the council’s regular meeting on Tuesday at 5 p.m. at City Hall.

Finance Director Vanessa Fults said despite the shortfall, Winchester’s reserve funds stand at $3.77 million with the amount expected to be at $2.9 million by the end of the new fiscal year in June 2020.

She added that the city, according to state law, is required to have slightly more than $1 million, or 15 percent of its total budget, in its rainy-day fund, and Winchester will have nearly three times that amount in June 2020.

Fults said the city’s revenue stands at about $7 million, $870,000 short of the 2020 expenditures.

She said Winchester is experiencing strong development with the Twin Creeks Marina & Resort project adding more than 100 homes to the city’s property tax rolls with up to 500 expected when the area is fully developed.

Fults said the development has given the City Council headroom to not pursue an increased property tax to balance its current budget, and the approach could continue after the next fiscal year.

“We can’t continue to do that indefinitely, but we’re OK for now,” she said.

Fults said the new homes, tied in with projected increased tourism and related sales tax revenue, are expected to increase the city’s revenue to where the expenses will be amortized with the increases in income.

Budget highlights include a new $2.5 million Fire Station No. 2 in the old Don Hall Ford building at 800 S. College St. The facility is expected to be operational by this coming fall, and the project has been financed without a property tax increase.

Other expenditures include making bleachers in the city’s athletic field No. 3 handicap-accessible.