At their meeting on Tuesday, Sept. 13, the Willow Park City Council approved the city’s budget for the 2022-23 fiscal year.
The budget has anticipated general fund revenues of $5,124,659 compared to expenses of $5,124,660.
As expected, the most revenue will come from property taxes ($1.9 million) and sales taxes ($1.75 million). The police department ($1,903,517) and fire department ($1,425,021) are the largest expenses.
“This budget reflects fiscal responsibility while still providing for the needs of Willow Park, particularly in the public safety departments,” City Manager Bryan Grimes said. “While we are going below the no-new-revenue rate, we will see increased revenue through new development.”
The city finished the 2021-22 fiscal year with $1,738,308 in sales tax revenue, besting the budgeted $1.4 million. It also continued a trend of increased sales tax revenue from $1,223,675 in FY 2019-20 to $1,448,563 in FY 2020-21.
The fire department’s future impact on the budget remains to be seen. In November, Willow Park residents will vote on whether to allow Parker County Emergency Services District 1 to adopt the department.
The new budget will become effective Oct. 1.
The council also approved a new property tax rate to go into effect on the same day as the new budget. The new rate is 54 cents per $100. That’s a decrease of three cents from the current rate of 57 cents per $100 and a return to the rate that was in place from 2016 through 2020.
The 2021 increase was reported as being due to additional fire department personnel.
Larry Colvin, President of the Weatherford Mountain Bike Club (WMBC), made a trails presentation to the council. Colvin, who is also the senior designer for civil, landscape, and trails for Baird, Hampton & Brown engineering consultants in Weatherford, was instrumental in the design and implementation of the Parks of Aledo Trail system. He has been designing a comprehensive single-track trail plan for the City of Willow Park for more than a year.
In addition, Colvin has also been in contact and involved with the surrounding cities of Annetta, North Annetta, Aledo, Hudson Oaks, and Weatherford, as well as several Parker County officials. His plan is to connect all of his proposed trails, those of other cities, and ones existing into one connecting trail system he has named East Parker County Trails (EPCoT).
“The great thing about these trails is everybody can take advantage of them,” Colvin said, noting that they can be used for walking, running, hiking, biking, and even walking a dog.
He has been working with Willow Park Mayor Pro Tem Lea Young on getting a contract submitted for the update of the trail map in the Parks and Trails Master Plan of Willow Park, along with cost estimates for the final design and construction of all Willow Park trails.
EPCoT is a collaboration to create a hike-and-bike route utilizing public roadways, existing and proposed paved trails and dedicated bike lanes, to connect downtown Aledo with Lake Weatherford. The EPCoT Trail proposes to connect existing mountain bike trail networks in Aledo (The Pit Kids' Skills Area and Trail, along with the Parks of Aledo Trails) and in Weatherford (Quanah Hill). Additionally, the City of Willow Park and the WMBC have created a concept mountain bike trail map that proposes upwards of nine miles of new single-track trails.
The goal of EPCoT will be to create an all-weather road bike route that will connect the existing and proposed mountain bike trailheads to one another.
Colvin added another possibility for the trails.
“I think having a Willow Park Marathon would be cool,” he said with a grin. “I’ve never been accused of not thinking big.”
The City of Willow Park will participate in National Night Out on Oct. 4 at 5:30 p.m. at the Public Safety Building on West Stagecoach Trail. The Willow Park Police and Fire Departments will be on hand, along with several community partners.
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