Notes from budget workshop No. 1 (Monday)

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The College Station City Council had the first of three workshops on the proposed FY15 city budget Monday afternoon at the CSU Meeting and Training Facility.

Monday’s session covered citywide budget issues, the General Fund, and general government capital projects. The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. and was adjourned at 7:10 p.m.

General Fund

The General Fund accounts for all city activities typically considered governmental functions, including Police and Fire, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Planning and Development Services. Also included are the primary support services for these areas such as Fiscal Services, Information Technology, and administrative services in General Government.

The FY14 revised General Fund revenue budget is $57.57 million and the FY14 year-end estimate is projected to be $58.56 million. The FY14 year-end estimate for General Fund revenue is expected to be about $985,000 more than the FY14 revised budget due largely to the year-end estimate for sales tax.

The FY14 sales tax revenue realized has been considerably higher than budgeted. In addition, mixed drink and franchise fees, and license and permit revenues are projected to be higher. Total estimated FY15 General Fund revenues are $61.85 million, which is a 5.63 percent increase over the FY14 year-end estimate.

A portion of this increase is due the proposed increase of 2.6542 cents in the in the property tax rate, which would fund service level increases in Police, Fire and transportation and mobility, including streets and a traffic signal system that’s directly related to the city’s continued growth.

Proposed Compensation and Benefits Changes

Maintaining a competitive pay and benefit structure allows the city to attract and retain well qualified employees who are on the front lines of providing services to the citizens and visitors of College Station. The city has received increased competition for workers from the growing oil and gas industry and other private sector industries.

The FY15 Proposed Budget includes a 3.5 percent average performance based merit pool for pay increases for for eligible city personnel. This pay plan increase is projected to cost $1,292,859.

The budget also includes continued funding for the step plan in the College Station Police Department. Continuing the implementation of the step pay plan will allow the Police Department to be more competitive in recruiting and retaining officers. Also included in the base budget are career advancement and skill pay plans for Fire and Electric employees. Continuing the implementation of these programs will allow these departments to remain competitive in hiring and retaining police officers, firefighters and electric personnel.

A total of $237,500 has been included in contingency for targeted pay adjustments that are expected to be proposed in the near future following the completion of analysis currently being conducted by Human Resources. These increases are intended to address pay disparities in certain position classes.

No increases in health benefit costs are budgeted in FY15. The health benefit package will include one Preferred Provider Organization (PPO) option and one High Deductible option. No changes are being made to the retirement benefit managed by Texas Municipal Retirement System (TMRS).

Service Level Adjustments

A number of Service Level Adjustments (SLAs) are included in the FY15 Proposed Budget. The detailed SLAs by department are included in each department summary and a full listing of these one-time and recurring SLAs can be found in Appendix B of the proposed budget.

Here’s a summary of the SLAs the council discussed on Monday:

Police: The Police Department’s proposed budget includes SLAs totaling $729,823:

  • Sworn officer pay scale adjustment.
  • Maintenance costs.
  • Northgate booking station equipment.
  • Corporal intermediate rank.
  • Tasers.
  • 3 patrol vehicles.
  • Mental Health Peace Officer incentive pay.

Fire: The Fire Department’s proposed budget includes SLAs totaling $1.15 million:

  • EMS equipment replacement.
  • 2 EMS/safety officers.
  • 5 firefighters for Station No. 6 Ladder (year 1).

Public Works: The Public Works Department’s proposed budget includes SLAs totaling $1.54 million:

  • Intelligent Transportation System Master Plan (operations and maintenance).
  • Street repair.
  • Routing and corrective facilities maintenance increases.Engineer in training.
  • Facilities maintenance staff assistant.
  • Landscape supervisor.
  • Pothole program equipment operator.
  • Traffic signal service vehicle.

Parks & Recreation: The Parks & Recreation Department’s proposed budget includes SLAs totaling $1.12 million:

  • Various equipment.
  • Ballfield light maintenance.
  • Playground equipment and surfacing.
  • Trail repair at Jack & Dorothy Miller Park.
  • Bachmann Park parking lot lighting.
  • Pavilion repairs.
  • Court resurfacing.
  • Irrigation specialist and van.
  • Digital signage.
  • Time keeping system.
  • TAAF Games of Texas 2018-2019 bid fee (Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund).
  • Tournament and event equipment needs (Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund).
  • Additional travel and training  — tournaments, conferences & meetings (Tourism Related — Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund).
  • Polaris phone system server for Ringer Library.

Planning & Development Services: Planning & Development Services’ proposed budget includes an SLA totaling $100,000:

  • Neighborhood plan implementation.

Information Technology: The Information Technology Department’s proposed budget includes SLAs totaling $111,650:

  • Internet bandwidth independent path.
  • SIEM implementation.
  • Network maintenance increase.
  • Equipment maintenance increase.
  • Council IPAD replacement.
  • Tyler OSDBA services.

Fiscal Services: Fiscal Services proposed budget includes SLAs totaling $236,902:

  • Sworn officer pay scale adjustment (city marshals).
  • Budget analyst.
  • Contract administrator.
  • ERP process documentation/document imaging.

General Government: The proposed budget for General Government — which includes the City Manager, City Secretary, Internal Auditor, City Council, Community Services, City Attorney, Human Resources and Public Communications —  includes SLAs totaling $251,207:

  • Legal Department — Automated case management system.
  • Public Communications – Neighborhood Services matching grant funds.
  • Community Services — Business manager.
  • Human Resources – Salary survey.
  • Human Resources – Copier upgrade.

Additional General Fund Projects: These are a transfer to streets CIP fund ($899,375) for Eisenhower Street extension and Langford Street sidewalks; a transfer to General Fund CIP fund ($212,041) for the ERP project; and a transfer to the Parkland Dedication Fund ($12,000) for the University Park playground.

Other General Fund Expenditures: A number of items in the General Fund don’t fall under the purview of any department. Miscellaneous expenditures within the General Fund include $1.2 million for public agency funding, $53,333 for consulting services, and $80,000 for other miscellaneous items. The breakdown of public agency funding:

  • Lions Club fireworks — $10,000 (request for $15,000).
  • Research Valley Partnership — $350,000.
  • Arts Council of Brazos Valley — $50,000.
  • Health district — $326,500.
  • Appraisal district — $262,507.
  • Animal shelter — $205,000.

Also included is $487,500 is for contingency, which includes $237,500 for targeted pay adjustments that are expected to be proposed in the near future following the completion of an analysis by HR. In addition, the General Fund proposed budget includes a $1.12 million transfer for capital projects. A net total of $2.5 million is included for interfund transfers, including an estimated transfer of $2.33 million from the General Fund as a subsidy to the Recreation Fund.

Other transfers-in totaling $1.36 million include:

  • $581,211 from the Hotel Tax Fund for qualifying tournaments and special events.
  • $62,999 from the Benefits Fund for FitLife programs for Police and Fire.
  • $100,000 from Drainage Fund for streets.
  • $613,549 from various CIP Funds to offset the cost of project management.

Other transfers-out totaling $934,426 include:

  • $375,000 to Economic Development Fund.
  • $192,426 to Northgate Parking Fund for non-parking expenditures.
  • $101,000 to Sanitation Fund for street sweeping.
  • $266,000 to Equipment Replacement Fund.

The final non-departmental expenditures are for consulting services ($46,667).

Financial Forecast

Revenues and expenditures will be monitored closely in FY15 to ensure any unexpected decreases in revenues or increases in expenditures can be proactively addressed. Although the economy has continued to improve, the city will continue to be mindful of the impact of future economic hardships and will address budgetary concerns so the city can continue providing core services to its citizens.

General Government Capital Projects

The city plans to keep investing in new and existing infrastructure. In FY15, significant investments will be made in streets ($16.9 million), parks ($5.45 million), parkland ($4.05 million), and facilities and tech ($5.19 million).

Streets, Traffic, Sidewalks and Trails Projects

In FY15, $5.82 million is expected to be spent on street rehabilitation projects, many of which remain from the 2008 Bond Authorization:

  • Cooner Street rehabilitation.
  • Luther Street rehabilitation.
  • Munson Street rehabilitation (design).
  • Graham Road rehabilitation.
  • Francis rehabilitation (design).

The FY15 estimate includes several projects on Rock Prairie Road:

  • RPR East rehabilitation (Stonebrook Drive to William D. Fitch Parkway).
  • RPR East widening (land acquisition).
  • RPR West widening.
  • RPR Bridge widening.

Other projects:

  • Eisenhower Street extension.
  • Barron Rd improvement (SH40 to William P. Fitch Parkway).
  • Barron Road East/Lakeway Extension (design).
  • Street TXDOT projects:
    • Design of u-turns at SH6 and FM60.
    • Design of raised medians on University.
  • Traffic Projects:
    • Signal Upgrade at Southwood and FM2818.
    • Future traffic signal projects.
    • Intelligent Transportation System Master Plan implementation.
  • Sidewalk projects:
    • Guadalupe Drive sidewalk improvements.
    • Langford Street sidewalk improvements.
  • Hike and Bike Trails:
    • Lick Creek Hike and Bike Trail.
  • University Drive Pedestrian Improvements Phase 2

Parks Capital Projects

Expenditures of $5.42 million are estimated for Parks and Recreation capital

improvement projects, including replacement and repairs at numerous athletic facilities and parks:

  • Field redevelopment projects.
  • Neighborhood Parks Revolving Fund.
  • Lincoln Recreation Center addition.
  • Lick Creek Nature Center.
  • Restrooms at Wolf Pen Creek Festival Site.

Parkland Dedication Fund projects:

  • University Park playground equipment and resurfacing.
  • Castlerock Park playground equipment replacement and resurfacing.
  • Castlegate Park playground equipment replacement and resurfacing.
  • All inclusive park.

What’s ahead

Tuesday’s budget workshop will include discussions on the city’s electric, water, wastewater, sanitation, drainage and Northgate parking funds. Wednesday’s final workshop will focus on remaining funds and the proposed tax rate.

A public hearing on the tax rate is scheduled for Sept 3 at city hall. A public hearing on the budget and tax rate will be Sept. 11. Adoption of the budget is set for Sept. 22.

–Public Communications Office