While our proactive and resilient financial management policies have enabled us to withstand impacts from the economic downturn better than most, we are not immune from impacts of the pandemic. Overall, the city is facing and has identified strategies to offset a revenue shortfall of approximately $3 million across all major funds as a result of COVID-19 – including a multimillion-dollar impact in the city’s main operating fund. Ultimately, the final budget reflects reductions to minimize the impacts and continues to place the city in a position for future success, even as we expect to continue to see economic impacts well into the next year. The approved budget provides for continued financial resiliency and maximum flexibility through fiscal year 2021 in an effort to place the city in a position to respond if the recovery is stronger than anticipated or the economy worsens beyond projections.
Budgeted reductions to minimize financial shortfalls include reducing and delaying major expenditures, such as infrastructure rehabilitation like streets, potholes and sidewalks.
As an example, we conduct an annual assessment of all city sidewalks in the City. We are currently placing cold patch as a temporary repair to help mitigate trip hazards on any hazard that are greater than 2 inches on all sidewalks throughout the city. Staff will be following up with permanent repairs over the next 12-18 months. As a result, Public Works staff are currently completing the temporary installation of cold patch on sidewalk throughout the City, and once completed, they will begin making permanent sidewalk repairs as funding allows.
This conservative approach and responsible flexibility built into the 2021 budget is another example of Sugar Land’s leadership in financial stewardship and resiliency, and these efforts have allowed us to prepare a budget that is operationally sustainable into the future, continues to offer one of the lowest property tax rates among cities our size, maintains essential services and makes progress on critical infrastructure projects approved by voters.