This blog is a summary of the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, May 26, and is not the official minutes. Changes made to specific items will be recorded in the minutes, which will be available in approximately two weeks.
Workshop Meeting Highlights
Appointments to Boards, Committees and Commissions
Staff briefed the council on the application process for boards and commissions. Openings and the new application are available on the city website. Applicants must be College Station residents and registered voters. Some boards have additional requirements. Board members eligible for re-appointment are required to re-apply if they wish to remain on the board. Board appointments will be made once a year. In the past, appointments have been made when terms expire, and the expectation is to get all boards on the same schedule. This new process will be more efficient and will help the city secretary get information out to the public faster. Council directed staff to proceed with board appointments to be brought back to council at the second meeting in July.
Appointments to Citizens Charter Review Advisory Commission
Mayor Berry announced that Jim Maness has resigned from the Citizens Charter Review Advisory Commission. Maness does not live within the city limits. Council consensus was that Lynn McIlhaney be moved from vice chair to chair, with the commission appointing a new vice chair.
Taxicab Ordinance Amendment
This item was pulled from the agenda to allow newer council members time to gather more information.
Update on FY12 Budget Process
Chief Financial Officer Jeff Kersten updated the council on the FY 12 budget process. Budget objectives include preparing a balanced budget that meets basic service levels with available resources, and positioning the city to meet future needs with limited resources. He reviewed the budget calendar and expects the proposed budget to be presented to the council in late July or early August. Kersten expects a Budget Public Hearing on August 25, but additional public hearings may be required regarding the tax rate. The budget and the tax rate will be adopted in September with the new fiscal year beginning on Oct. 1. Current conditions that will impact the budget include the state legislative session with it impacts on education, modest economic growth, slow growth in sales tax, and minimal property value growth, which is projected to be no more than 2 percent. Key general fund revenue streams include:
1) Sales tax at 35 percent
2) Property tax at 23 percent
3) Return on Investments (utility transfers) at 22 percent
4) Other revenues at 19 percent
Sales tax receipts to date for FY 11 are slightly above projections, and the FY 12 forecast is for slow to moderate growth. The city reduced its budget $5.3 million in the three previous budgets.
Budget policies provide parameters for the budget preparation. Key policies include revenue policies for the tax rate and enterprise rates, capital maintenance and replacements, and fund balance policies. The budget is prepared using the existing tax rate. Regarding enterprise rates, Kersten said the return on investment policy has the electric fund at 10.5 percent and the water/wastewater and sanitation fund at 10 percent. Staff is considering changing the policy to reduce the transfer in one or more funds. Capital maintenance and replacement is for funds set aside for street maintenance, parking lots, technology, etc., and are significant investments. The city’s fund balance is its reserve for emergency situations.
FY 12 budget issues include minimal revenue increases, return on investment policy, and further reductions to address economic conditions. Council will also look at reducing the electric ROI over the next two years, since the electric fund cannot sustain the current levels. The demand for services continues and staff is looking at permanent reductions in the general fund of $1.5 million to stay balanced. While identifying potential budget reductions, staff will be evaluating service level impacts and proposals will be made in the FY 12 proposed budget. Budget reductions can be realized through reorganization, outsourcing, program reductions/eliminations and staffing considerations.
Beyond FY 12, the financial forecast impacts the general fund with moderate revenue increases, reductions in the ROI, in public safety and additional service level demands. Additional revenue and/or reductions will be needed in FY 13 and in future years. Staff will monitor the economic conditions and revenues, identify service priorities and reduce expenditures as necessary. The consensus of the council was to have the budget workshops close together instead of spread out over several weeks.
Regular Meeting Highlights
The council unanimously approved the entire consent agenda. This is not a complete list, so click here to view all the consent items.
Blue Cross Blue Shield Administrative Services Contract
The city council approved an administrative services agreement contract renewal with Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas for the city’s medical, dental and prescription drug plan in the amount of $434,189. The city’s benefits consultant negotiated a 3 percent decrease on the combined medical and dental administration with Blue Cross Blue Shield. The required funds are available in the employee benefits fund.
Woodcreek Park Improvements
The city council approved a construction contract in the amount of $57,132.50 for the renovation of Woodcreek Park, which was built in 1991. The bid amount is more than $15,000 under the projected budget of $72,850. The project will be funded with bond money that was approved by voters in the 2008 city election. Improvements will include new sidewalks, drinking fountain, pea gravel for the playground, earthwork, sodding and resurfacing of the existing basketball court. Many of the repairs are related to safety or replacement of items that are no longer in good or acceptable condition. The renovations also will address compliance issues with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
UDO Amendment for Campus Wayfinding Signs
The council unanimously approved an amendment to the city’s Unified Development Ordinance (UDO) related to sign requirements, which is part of the continuing efforts to make the city more business-friendly. In January, the council directed staff to pursue UDO amendments identified by a subcommittee of the Mayor’s Forum on Development. The UDO provided limited options for wayfinding signage within a development. Signs not easily identified from beyond the property line or right-of-way are exempt from the sign requirements when they meet a specified distance from the property line and when the height of the copy or logo is restricted to a specified size. In addition, only one directional traffic control sign is allowed per curb cut, with a maximum size of 3 sq. ft. and height of 4 ft.
The amendment allows campus wayfinding signs within unified developments or planned development districts of 20 acres or more in size that contain multiple buildings. These signs are limited in height to no greater than 6 ft. with a maximum total sign area of 30 sq. ft.
Council Agendas and Minutes
(Official minutes of Thursday’s meetings will be available in two weeks)