Fiscal Services

Final FY19 budget workshop focuses on details

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council had its final workshop about the proposed FY19 city budget on Tuesday at the CSU Meeting and Training Facility. The 3-hour session covered special revenue funds, enterprise funds, internal service funds, hotel tax fund, and outside agency funding.

Monday’s initial workshop covered the city’s general fund and capital projects.

The Fiscal Year 2019 proposed net budget for the City of College Station totals $360.7 million for all funds, which includes $252.3 million for operations and maintenance and $108.4 million for capital projects.

Proposed FY19 Budget Document

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

Outside Agency Funding

The city helps fund select outside local agencies through the General Fund, Hotel Tax Fund, Community Development Fund, and Solid Waste Fund.

  • General Fund: Outside agency funding from the General Fund totals $1.45 million. Funded organizations are the Brazos Valley Economic Development Corporation ($350,000), Arts Council ($35,000 for operations), Noon Lions Club ($15,000 for 4th of July celebration), Aggieland Humane Society ($273,196), Brazos County Health District ($395,065), and the Brazos Central Appraisal District ($383,420).
  • Hotel Tax Fund: Outside agencies get abut $3.44 million from the Hotel Tax Fund: $2 million for the convention & visitors bureau for operational, sales/marketing, promotional, servicing and business development elements; $588,950 for the CVB Grant Program; $114,376 for Easterwood Airport advertising; $290,000 for Arts Council operations and maintenance; $362,476 for Arts Council affiliate funding; $35,500 for public art support through the Arts Council; $25,000 to the Veterans Memorial; and $25,000 for the Bryan/College Station Chamber of Commerce.
  • Community Development Fund: Outside agency funding from the Community Development Fund totals $228,000. Funded agencies are Big Brothers Big Sisters ($29,216), Brazos Maternal & Child Health Clinic ($30,000), Brazos Valley Food Bank ($21,247), Catholic Charities ($5,000), Family Promise ($30,000), Brazos Valley Rehabilitation Clinic ($24,753), Mental Health Mental Retardation Authority ($30,000), Project Unity ($30,000), Twin City Mission ($27,000), and Voices for Children ($30,000).
  • Solid Waste Fund: Keep Brazos Beautiful receives $49,190 from the Solid Waste Fund.

Special Revenue Funds 

  • Roadway Maintenance Fee: The Roadway Maintenance Fee is paid monthly by residents and businesses to help fix potholes and properly maintain streets. Preventive maintenance also reduces the need for costly road reconstruction. Revenues and expenditures for FY19 are projected to be $4.89 million.
  • Water Impact Fee: The Water Impact Fee is assessed for permits issued for new water connections to fund existing and future capital improvement projects that serve new developments. FY19 revenues are expected to be $301,933, which will be transferred to the Water Fund for the debt service payment for projects related to Well No. 9.
  • Wastewater Impact Fee: The Wastewater Impact Fee is assessed for permits issued for new sewer connections. FY19 revenues are projected to be $1.81 million. A transfer of $328,881 to the Wastewater Fund is proposed for debt service payment for the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant expansion.
  • Roadway Impact Fee: The Roadway Impact Fee funds existing and future capital improvement projects that serve new developments. Four separate funds were created for the four service territories where the fee is collected. Fees collected in a service area must be used for capital projects there. FY19 revenues are expected to be $683,000, which will be used for the Capstone/Barron Realignment project, and the rehabilitation of Fitch Parkway from Rock Prairie Road to Tonkaway Lake.
  • Community Development: The Community Development Fund is used to account for grants received from the U. S. Department of Housing and Urban Development by the city for use in revitalizing low- and moderate-income areas and addressing the needs of low and moderate income citizens. Grant amounts in FY19 include $1.73 million in Community Development Block Grant funds and $783,993 in HOME Investment Partnership Grant funds.

Enterprise Funds

  • Electric: No electric rate increase is proposed. FY19 revenue is estimated to be $105.1 million with a $76.1 million operating budget. Planned electric capital projects are expected to be about $20.4 million.
  • Water: FY19 revenue is estimated to be almost $17 million with an $8.5 million operating budget. Planned water capital projects are expected to be about $17 million.
  • Wastewater: A 5 percent wastewater rate increase is proposed to support significant capital projects. The FY19 operating budget is $7.3 million with revenues estimated at $19.2 million. Planned wastewater capital projects are expected to be about $29.3 million.
  • Solid Waste: The Solid Waste Fund accounts for collecting and disposing of residential and commercial refuse. FY19 revenues are estimated to be $10.9 million with an operating budget of $8.7 million.
  • Northgate Parking: The Northgate Parking Fund accounts for revenues and expenditures from Northgate parking facilities. FY19 revenue is estimated to be $1.5 million with an operating budget of about $1.3 million.

Property Tax Rate

The council voted unanimously to conduct public hearings on the proposed tax rate on Sept. 5 (7 p.m.) and Sept. 13 (6 p.m.) at College Station City Hall, along with adoption of the tax rate on Sept. 27.

The FY19 proposed budget includes a tax rate of 50.5841 cents per $100 assessed valuation, which includes a 0.8341-cent increase on the General Fund side to offset a five percent homestead exemption approved by the city council earlier this year. The proposed operations and maintenance side of the tax rate is unchanged at 28.5502, while the debt service side stays at 22.0339.

Under the new rate, the owner of a $200,000 home would pay about $84 per month. The average tax rate for Texas cities with populations between 75,000-150,000 is about 59 cents. The City of Bryan has a tax rate of almost 63 cents.

The effective tax rate for FY19 — the rate that will raise the same revenues as last year on the same properties —  is 47.8968 cents. The rollback tax rate of 52.2313 cents is the highest that can be adopted before citizens can initiate a petition to lower it back to the rollback rate.

Hotel Tax Fund

The Hotel Tax allows the city to collect up to its existing tax rate of 7 percent on rental income of hotels and motels. Projected Hotel Tax Fund revenues are about $5.7 million. About $6.73 million in hotel tax funds will cover the new synthetic fields at Veterans Park, Southeast Park development, sports tournament promotions, qualifying parks programs and events, and the preferred access agreement payment to Texas A&M.

Insurance Funds

The City of College Station is partially self-insured for property & casualty and general liability, workers’ compensation, and unemployment compensation.

  • Property & Casualty: Total proposed revenues for the Property & Casualty Insurance Fund are about $1 million with $1.3 million in expenses.
  • Employee Benefits: Proposed income in the Employee Benefits Fund are $13.5 million, which includes a 5 percent increase in city-paid employee health insurance premiums. Other proposed expenditures include $465,689 for the Employee Health Clinic and about $1.1 million for the Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) Trust.
  • Workers’ Compensation: FY19 proposed revenues are $590,000, and proposed expenditures are $537,651.
  • Unemployment Insurance: FY19 proposed revenues (investment earnings only) are $3,500 with claims costs of $60,000. Revenues typically are collected as a percentage of each employee’s salary, but in FY17 the decision was made to forego collection due to increased working capital in recent years. That decision was extended to FY18 and FY19.

Other Internal Services Funds

  • Equipment Replacement: In FY19, $7.4 million is proposed for the replacement of various equipment, including $6.6 million for city vehicles.
  • Fleet Maintenance: FY19 estimated revenues are projected at $2.5 million with expenses of $2.4 million.
  • Utility Customer Service: Revenues and expenditures of $3.2 million are proposed for FY19.

What’s Ahead?

A public hearing on the proposed tax rate is scheduled for 7 p.m. on Sept. 5 at city hall. A public hearing on the budget and tax rate will be at 6 p.m. on Sept. 13 at city hall. Budget and tax rate adoption is set for Sept. 27.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also been a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.



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City budget focuses on growth and public safety

2019 budget graphic

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The proposed FY19 city budget presented to the College Station City Council on Aug. 9 totals $360.7 million, about $5 million less than this year.

Yes, you read that right. The city plans to spend 1.37 percent less in the fiscal year that starts Oct. 1. But before you fret about cuts in our high-quality services, let’s take a closer look.

The decrease is all on the capital projects side. We’re still investing about $108.4 million in vital infrastructure projects, but that includes multi-year projects that were appropriated in FY18 and are still in progress. The operations and maintenance part of the budget includes a $1.9 million boost to address growth and maintain our high level of service.

The General Fund, which pays for public safety, public works, parks, planning and development services, and administration, totals about $83.7 million. The overall budget focuses on core services and maintaining and building the infrastructure for a city that’s grown by more than 25 percent since the 2010 census.

The proposed budget also reflects the 5 percent homestead exemption the city council adopted in June to shift some of the property tax burden off permanent residents. The budget offsets the lost revenue with a property tax rate increase of less than 1 cent, raising it to 50.5841 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The only proposed change in utility rates is a five percent wastewater increase to be used for system improvements needed to keep up with our growth and to replace aging infrastructure.

Tax Rate Remains Low

While property values continue to rise and bring in new revenue, it’s not enough to provide the infrastructure and levels of service our current and future residents need and deserve.

College Station’s proposed tax rate would still rank among the lowest in Texas and would be about a dime less than the state average among similar-sized cities. It’s far less than what you’ll find in other fast-growing areas, including Bryan, which has a tax rate of almost 63 cents.

If you have a $200,000 home in College Station, you’ll pay about $84 a month for 24-hour police and fire protection, streets and traffic management, parks facilities, code enforcement and planning and development services.

That’s a great deal when compared to what you typically pay for cell phone or cable television service.

Public Safety

The mission of the police and fire departments, along with emergency medical services, is to provide a safe community for us to live in and raise our families. The police and fire departments account for more than half of the city’s General Fund budget.

The proposed budgets for the police and fire departments includes funds for new equipment along with pay increases to maintain competitiveness in the local market and increase retention.

Capital Projects and Infrastructure

The $108.4 million proposed for capital improvement projects come from various sources, including general obligation bonds authorized by voters, certificates of obligation supported by tax and utility rates, cash reserves from the General Fund, utility funds, and hotel tax fund.

The capital budget includes about $16.2 million for street and transportation projects such as the extensions to Greens Prairie Road and Greens Prairie Trail, phase three of the Royder Road project, and the relocation of the Cain Road/Deacon Drive railroad crossing.

Facility projects include the expansion of the library, the new police station, initial phases of a new city hall, and renovations to create a senior and community center in the old Arts Council building at Dartmouth and Colgate.

Utility projects include the implementation of smart electric meters (Advanced Meter Infrastructure), the Graham Road electric substation, and the expansion of the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.

Parks & Recreation

The parks budget covers significant facility improvements and repairs along with the construction of Southeast Park near the old Rock Prairie landfill and the new synthetic fields at Veterans Park & Athletic Complex. Also included are a new grounds worker and an upgrade to the lightning detection system used throughout our parks system.

City Services

That brings us back to answering the demand of residents for high-quality services, which aren’t possible without the city’s most valuable resource — our workforce. Maintaining a competitive pay and benefits structure allows us to attract — and keep — well-qualified employees to serve our residents and visitors.

The proposed budget includes a 2 percent pay scale adjustment for all positions, a 1½ percent pool for performance pay increases, and a 5 percent boost in the city’s contribution to employee health care premiums.

Public Hearing Dates

The council will review the budget in a series of in-depth workshops from Aug. 20-22, with final adoption of the budget and tax rate set for Sept. 27. A public hearing on the tax rate is set for Sept. 5, followed by a public hearing on the tax rate and budget on Sept. 13.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010 after serving 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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Council wraps up final day of budget workshops

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council had its final workshop about the proposed FY18 city budget on Tuesday at the CSU Meeting and Training Facility. The 3-hour session covered special revenue funds, enterprise funds, internal service funds, hotel tax fund, and outside agency funding.

Monday’s initial workshop covered the city’s general fund, capital projects, and the hotel tax fund.

The Fiscal Year 2018 proposed net budget for the City of College Station totals $365.5 million for all funds, which includes $244.5 million for operations and maintenance and $121 million for capital projects.

Proposed FY18 Budget Document

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

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Council reviews proposed budget in special workshop

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council had its first workshop about the proposed FY18 city budget on Monday at the CSU Meeting and Training Facility. The 5 1/2-hour session primarily covered the city’s general fund, capital projects and the hotel tax fund.

On Tuesday, the council will focus on special revenue funds, enterprise funds, internal service funds, hotel tax fund, and outside agency funding. A third workshop is scheduled for Wednesday if necessary.

The Fiscal Year 2018 proposed net budget for the City of College Station totals $365.5 million for all funds, which includes $244.5 million for operations and maintenance and $121 million for capital projects.

Proposed FY18 Budget Document

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

(more…)


FY18 city budget spotlights public safety, infrastructure

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Just about everyone agrees that the College Station Police Department has outgrown its current building on Texas Avenue. That’s why the city council last year unanimously approved a new police facility. City-owned property on the southeast corner of Krenek Tap Road and Dartmouth Street was chosen as the site.

The new station will accommodate almost twice as many work stations along with adequate space for training, evidence processing, storage, dispatch, and more. It also furnishes room to grow as the city continues to expand.

At $28 million, providing a modern facility to our brave men and women in blue isn’t cheap. But considering that our police department has worked so hard to make us one of the nation’s safest cities, they deserve a top-notch place to perform their duties as efficiently as possible. (more…)


New fee will help address street maintenance concerns

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By Aubrey Nettles, Special Projects Coordinator

While the results of our 2016 citizen survey last spring were enlightening, they were hardly surprising.

We weren’t at all surprised to learn that the overwhelming majority of our residents think College Station is a terrific place to live, work, and raise a family. We were proud that our overall city services got high marks, along with the value of the services you receive for your tax dollars.

When it came to what services our residents deem most important, we weren’t surprised, either. Public safety, managing traffic congestion, and maintaining our roadways and were at the top of the list.

The survey also revealed the biggest gaps between the importance and quality of our services. With our rapid growth, we weren’t surprised to see a 70-point gap between the importance (98 percent) and quality (28 percent) for managing traffic congestion.

What seized our attention was the 51-point gap for street maintenance. While 99 percent said maintaining our roads was an important service, only 48 percent gave us a good or excellent rating. That represented a 23-point drop from the 2012 survey, the biggest decline in any city service.

City council takes action

Those numbers also commanded the attention of the city council. During the FY17 budget process, the council began considering roadway maintenance fees to help address the maintenance needs of that vital infrastructure. After two public hearings and much deliberation over several months, the council voted in November to implement the fees starting Jan. 1.

The roadway maintenance fee will be paid by citizens and businesses within the city limits, based on their reasonably equitable share in the total impact on the road system. The fee will appear as a line item on your utility bill, with the revenue dedicated entirely to the maintenance and rehabilitation of our streets. That means the funds can’t be used for anything else.

Many cities in Texas are facing the same issue of road maintenance needs outpacing property and sales tax revenue. Others with variations of a roadway maintenance fee include Bryan, Austin, Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Lampasas, Taylor, and Richwood. Our neighbors in Bryan began assessing a transportation fee in 2004 that’s improved the quality of its road system.

How much do I pay?

Travel characteristics of specific land uses were used to develop the fee schedule. For residential properties, a flat monthly rate of $7.78 will be assessed to single-family homes and $6.10 to multi-family units. Bryan residents pay $12 a month.

Non-residential properties will be placed in one of five tiers ranging from $17.23 for properties that generate little road use to $250 for properties that create the most road use. For example, a small office building is expected to cause much less traffic than a large retail business, so it pays a lower fee.


Vehicle Miles Generated/Day Monthly Charge
Non-Residential
Tier I 0 – 23.99 $17.23
Tier II 24.00 – 43.99 $38.71
Tier III 43.99 – 90.99 $74.71
Tier IV 91.00 – 223.99 $152.39
Tier V 224.00 + $250.00
Residential
Single Family Flat fee/dwelling unit $7.78
Multi-Family Flat fee/dwelling unit $6.10

What determines the non-residential tiers?

The tiers for non-residential properties are based on the amount of roadway traffic generated by the land use, the size of the property, and an industry-standard trip generation factor. The 65 land use categories for the roadway fee are consistent with other city transportation initiatives.

The size of each property depends on its land use. For example, office buildings are measured by floor area, gas stations are measured by the number of fueling positions, and hotels are measured by the number of rooms. The trip generation factor for each land use — a function of the number and length of vehicle trips — is determined by the Institute of Transportation Engineers’ Trip Generation Manual.

The amount of the fee based on a final trip value derived from the property size and the trip generation factor.

Our residents made clear in the citizen survey that they expect our streets to be properly maintained and rehabilitated. In the long run, additional resources dedicated to maintenance will save taxpayer money by deferring costly reconstruction projects.

For more information, contact me at 979-764-3423 or anettles@cstx.gov.

 


15171088_10109275789026314_9222973594705679303_n1About the Author

Aubrey Nettles is in her third year as special projects coordinator in the City Manager’s Office. She previously served as executive assistant to the Fort Bend County Commission and was a management analyst for Harris County. A native of Smithville, Aubrey earned a master’s degree in public administration from the University of Houston in 2012 and a bachelor’s degree in communications from Texas A&M in 2010.  


 

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Council reviews proposed budget during workshops

Budget4

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council had its final workshop about the proposed FY17 city budget on Tuesday at the CSU Meeting and Training Facility. The session primarily covered the city’s funding of outside agencies and the hotel tax fund. 

The Fiscal Year 2017 proposed net budget for the City of College Station totals $341 million for all funds, which includes $217.47 million for operations and maintenance and $108 million for capital projects.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

First, my apologies for not posting a blog from Monday’s initial budget workshop. I had to be out-of-town. Before we go into the details of today’s workshop, I’ll briefly recap Monday’s discussion of the general fund, tax rate, and road maintenance fee.

Monday’s Recap

The General Fund accounts for 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.

Proposed FY17 General Fund revenues are $78.1 million, an 11.8 percent increase.

The total net taxable certified value of property in the City of College Station for 2016 is about $7.99 billion, an increase of 11.9 percent from 2015. The increase in value is due in part to $284 million in new construction and development being added to the tax rolls. Existing property values increased by 7.9 percent over 2015.

The FY17 Proposed Budget includes a tax rate of 47.25 cents per $100 assessed valuation, which includes 27.7161 cents for operations and maintenance and 19.5339 cents for debt service. That marks a two-cent increase from the FY16 rate of 45.25. For the owner of a $175,000 home, the new rate would raise the monthly tax bill by less than $3.

Based on the final property value numbers received – the effective tax rate for FY17 is 42.4282 cents. The effective tax rate is the rate that will raise the same revenues as last year on the same properties. The rollback tax rate of 47.2820 cents is the highest that can be adopted before citizens can initiate a petition to lower it back to the rollback rate.

The average tax rate for Texas cities with populations from 75,000-150,000 is about 58 cents. The 10 fastest-growing non-suburbs – excluding College Station – average about 59 cents. The City of Bryan has a tax rate of 62.9 cents, along with a monthly street improvement fee.

The budget also includes a proposed $10 roadway maintenance fee for residential utility customers. The fee would generate about $4 million each year for street and road maintenance, which was cited as a top priority in a recent survey of city residents.   

On Tuesday, the council focused on outside agency funding and the hotel tax fund.

Outside Agency Funding

Total proposed FY16 outside agency funding is $4.46 million. Requested from the General Fund is $1.25 million for these agencies:

  • Research Valley Partnership: $350,000 (operations).
  • Arts Council of Brazos Valley: $35,000 (operations).
  • Noon Lions Club: $15,000 (Fourth of July celebration).
  • Aggieland Humane Society: $235,000 (operations).
  • Brazos County Health District: $326,500 (operations).
  • Brazos Central Appraisal District: $288,661 (operations).

Requested from the Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund is $3.16 million:

  • B-CS Convention & Visitors Bureau: $2,122,616 (operations).
  • B-CS CVB Grant Program: $400,000.
  • Easterwood Airport Advertising: $102,690.
  • Arts Council of Brazos Valley: $91,000 (operations)
  • Arts Council of Brazos Valley: $348,400 (affiliate funding/marketing)
  • Arts Council of Brazos Valley: $43,500 (marketing/public support)
  • Veterans Memorial: $25,000 (development of Civil War memorial).
  • B-CS Chamber of Commerce: $25,000.

Keep Brazos Beautiful requested $51,190 from the Sanitation Fund.

Hotel Tax Fund     

The hotel tax allows the city to collect up to its current rate of 7 percent on rental income of hotels and motels in the city limits.Hotel tax funds can only be spent on specific items that promote tourism.

The FY17 budgeted hotel tax revenue is $5.4 million, a 2.5 percent increase from FY16. Hotel tax revenues are expected to increase due to a solid tourism economy and the addition of several hotels. Total city operating expenditures in the Hotel Tax Fund are increased by 36.4 percent to about $7.4 million, which includes two additional synthetic fields at Veterans Park and provides improvements to existing fields.

About $1.7 million is proposed for the initial phase of the Southeast Park project, and $690,000 is budgeted for the fourth preferred access payment to the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the use ofTexas A&M’s athletic facilities.

Court and Police Seizure Funds

The College Station Municipal Court collects a number of special fees authorized by the state legislature. These fees are the court technology fee, court security fee, efficiency time payment fee, juvenile case manager fee and the truancy prevention fee. Other fees collected specifically for child safety are collected in the General Fund and are used to pay for school crossing guards. These fees are paid by those who pay tickets at College Station Municipal Court.

The Police Seizure Fund accounts for items received through the Police Department as a result of criminal investigations. These funds are used for one-time equipment and other purchases to assist in police activities. Police Seizure Fund revenues are estimated to be $20,401 in FY17 with proposed expenditures of $20,000.

Cemetery Fund

The Memorial Cemetery Fund is a special fund that accounts for two-thirds of the sales of cemetery lots and other revenues through the Memorial Cemetery, which includes the Aggie Field of Honor. For FY17, proposed revenue earnings are $257,004.

Other Special Revenue Funds

  • Wolf Pen Creek TIF Fund: Accounts for ad valorem tax and other revenues that are accrued to the WPC Tax Increment Finance District. The fund also accounts for expenditures on projects that take place in the WPC District.
    • Fund Balance – $1.27 million
    • Expenditures – $5,000
  • West Medical District TIRZ No. 18: Established in December 2012, the West Medical District Tax Increment Refinance Zone encompasses the area near the State Highway 6-Rock Prairie Road Bridge and includes The Med and Scott & White Hospital. Development in this portion of the district is expected to meet or exceed $117 million over a 20-year period, which would yield about $8.4 million in tax proceeds. The funds will be used to support the required improvement projects.
    • Revenue: $230,135 – tax revenue and interest earnings
    • Expenditures: $0
  • East Medical District  TIRZ No. 19: Established in December 2012, the East Medical District TIRZ encompasses the area east of the State Highway 6-Rock Prairie Road Bridge and includes most of the district’s undeveloped properties. Development projects include Rock Prairie Road East, Barron Road, Lakeway Drive, potable water, fire flow water supply, greenway trails, sanitary sewer service, and other public works. New development is expected to meet or exceed $283 million over a 20-year period, which would yield about $30.8 million in tax proceeds. The funds will be used to fund the required improvement projects.
    • Revenue: $2,971 – tax revenue and interest earnings
    • Expenditures: $0
  • Public, Education and Government Access Channel Fee Fund: PEG funds are collected in an amount equal to one percent of Suddenlink Media’s gross revenues, per a new state franchise agreement that replaced a 10-year-old local franchise agreement. These funds, collected quarterly, may be used for educational and governmental broadcasting on Channel 19.
    • Revenue – $201,000 – cable franchise fees and interest earnings
    • Expenditures: $143,640
  • R.E. Meyer Estate Restricted Gift Fund: When Robert Earl “Bob” Meyer passed away in October 2013, he generously bequeathed 25 percent of his estate to the College Station Parks and Recreation Department with the gift restricted for the benefit of senior adult programs.

Electric Fund

The electric utility provides for the construction of new facilities needed to extend electrical service to new consumers, performs repairs and maintenance to the electric system, and installs and maintains street and traffic lights. Electric utility employees maintain over 20 miles of electric transmission lines, seven electrical substations, and more than 450 miles of overhead and underground electric distribution lines.

A one percent decrease in electric rates is proposed in the FY17 budget. Revenues of $102 million are projected with operating expenditures of $73.4 million and non-operating expenditures of about $31 million, which includes $16.8 million in capital projects.

Water Fund

As a city enterprise, the full cost of service for water production, transmission and distribution is recovered by charging customers for consumption on a per unit basis. 

No water rate increase is included in the FY17 budget. Revenues of $15.8 million are projected with operating expenditures of $8.2 million, non-operating expenditures of about $9.2 million, and $8.7 million in capital projects.

Wastewater Fund

Wastewater services are provided as an enterprise function with service-related fees paying for the cost of service. 

An eight percent increase in wastewater rates is included in the FY16 budget. Revenues of $16.7 million are projected with operating expenditures of $7.1 million, non-operating expenditures of about $13.2 million, and $14.4 million in capital projects.

Sanitation Fund

The Sanitation Division of Public Works serves the city’s solid waste collection needs, including curbside recycling, brush and grass clipping collection, street sweeping, removal of waste and the provision of residential containers. Commercial services are also provided to local businesses.

No sanitation rate increase is included in the FY17 budget. Revenues of $9.6 million are projected with operating expenditures of $9 million and non-operating expenditures of about $867,000 million.

Drainage Fund

Like all the city’s enterprise funds, the goal of the drainage fund is to provide a quality service at a reasonable cost. No rate increase is included in the FY17 budget, which projects expenditures of about $1.8 million.

Northgate Parking Fund

The Northgate Parking Fund accounts for parking operations in the Northgate District, including the surface parking lot on Patricia Street, the College Main Parking Garage and on-street parking. Revenues of $1.4 million are projected with operating expenditures of $1.3 million.

Internal Service Funds

The City of College Station is partially self-insured for property, casualty and general liability, workers compensation and unemployment compensation. The city became self-funded for employee and dependent health care in January 2004. The current program is administered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. These insurance funds are accounted for as Internal Service Funds.

  • Property & Casualty Insurance: $1.12 million in expenditures and transfers.
  • Employee Benefits Fund: $12.7 million in expenditures and transfers.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance: $678,000 in expenditures and transfers.
  • Unemployment Insurance Fund: $50,000 in expenditures.

Equipment Replacement Fund

The Equipment Replacement Fund is an internal service fund that provides equipment and fleet replacements. The FY17 budget projects about $6.2 million in expenditures and revenues of $6.6 million.

Fleet Maintenance Fund

The Fleet Maintenance Fund is an Internal Service Fund that receives revenue based on expected costs of departmental transportation and uses those funds to pay for maintaining the city’s fleet of vehicles. The FY17 budget projects about $2.1 million in expenditures and revenues of $2.2 million.

Utility Customer Service

The Utility Customer Service Fund is an Internal Service Fund that accounts for expenses associated with reading electric and water meters, completing connect and disconnect requests, and providing customer service activities including billing and collections for electric, water, wastewater, sanitation, and drainage utilities.

The FY17 budget projects about $2.8 million in expenditures and revenues of $2.65 million.

What’s Ahead?

A public hearing on the proposed tax rate of 47.25 is scheduled for 7 p.m. on August 31 at city hall. A public hearing on the budget and tax rate will be at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8 at city hall. Budget adoption is set for Sept. 22.


Colin KillianAbout the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian)has been with the City of College Station since 2010. He previously served 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also done extensive volunteer work for the U.S. Olympic Committee and worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


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FY17 budget focuses on public safety, streets and infrastructure

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The citizen survey conducted in April showed that most of our residents believe College Station is headed in the right direction. We’re proud to be one of the most livable and desirable cities in Texas.

But that doesn’t mean we don’t have a lot of work to do.

According to the U.S. Census, College Station was the fastest-growing non-suburb in Texas from 2014 to 2015. In the last decade, our population has grown by a whopping 28 percent. With student populations at Texas A&M and Blinn continuing to expand, we can expect another 40,000 residents in the next 10 years.

Thanks to our rapid growth – not to mention substantial budget cuts in the years after the 2008-09 recession – we’ve fallen behind in some key areas, especially street maintenance. Although surveyed residents gave the city high marks for customer service and overall service quality, they made it crystal clear where they want the city to focus its efforts.

Better streets, less traffic congestion, adequate infrastructure and public safety services were at the top of the list. Unfortunately, none of those necessities are cheap.

Proposed Tax Rate

The proposed FY17 city budget presented to the city council Thursday night includes a modest two-cent increase in the property tax rate and an eight percent increase in wastewater fees. The council may also consider a roadway maintenance fee. The water rate would remain the same while the electric rate would fall by one percent, thanks to lower purchased power costs.

While property values continue to rise and bring in substantial new revenue, it’s simply not enough to provide the infrastructure and levels of service our current and future residents deserve. And the proposed tax rate of 47.25 per $100 valuation would still be far below what you’ll find in most other Texas cities, especially those experiencing the consequences of similar growth patterns.

The average tax rate for Texas cities with populations from 75,000-150,000 is about 58 cents. The 10 fastest-growing non-suburbs – excluding College Station – average about 59 cents. Even our neighbors to the north in the City of Bryan have a tax rate of 62.9 cents, along with a monthly street improvement fee.

If you have a $175,000 home, the increase would raise your monthly tax bill by about $3. You would be paying less than $69 a month for 24-hour police and fire protection, streets and traffic management, parks facilities, code enforcement and planning and development services.

That’s less than a typical monthly cell phone bill.

The proposed budget totals almost $341 million, including more than $108 million in capital projects required to meet our current and expected growth.

Public Safety

The mission of the police and fire departments, along with emergency medical services, is to provide a safe community for us to live in and raise our families. Part of the proposed tax increase would pay for seven new positions in the Police Department – five officers, a criminal investigations assistant, and a digital evidence technician.

The budget also includes $25 million for a new police station.

In addition, the new tax revenue would cover five new firefighter positions to complete the staffing and equipping of the city’s second ladder truck, which will go into service next year.

Core Services and Capital Projects

With more people coming to town as residents and visitors, we obviously need better traffic flow and properly maintained and expanded streets and transportation systems. The proposed budget includes almost $2.6 in new funding for street improvements and more than $24 million for street and transportation capital projects.

The massive amount of new development has also created tremendous strains on our Planning & Development Services Department, which needs to add a graduate engineer, an engineering construction inspector and a combination building inspector. Increases in development fees are proposed to pay for these positions.

The $108 million proposed for capital improvements come from various sources, including general obligation bonds authorized by voters, certificates of obligation supported by tax and utility rates, cash reserves from the general fund, utility funds, and hotel tax fund.

The eight percent increase in wastewater fees would help pay for related capital projects in 2017 and beyond. The city is also considering implementing water, wastewater and roadway impact fees on new development. If adopted, these fees would help cover the costs of infrastructure in our high-growth areas.

City Services

That brings us back to meeting the demand of our residents for city services. You can’t provide high-quality services without the city’s most valuable resource — our workforce. Maintaining a competitive pay and benefits structure allows us to attract — and keep — well-qualified employees who provide services to our residents and visitors.

Over $2 million is included in the budget for implementing the new pay plan and providing a pool for performance increases in FY 17. A 2015 salary survey resulted in a recommendation to implement a new pay structure to address performance and retain high performers.

The proposed budget includes a 3 percent pool for performance pay increases for eligible employees, a 3 percent increase to the step plan for sworn positions in the Police Department, and a 3 percent performance pay increase for the Fire Department.

Public Hearing Dates

The council will review the budget in a three-day series of in-depth workshops starting Monday, with final adoption of the budget and tax rate set for Sept. 22. A public hearing on the tax rate is scheduled for Aug. 31, followed by another public hearing on the tax rate and budget on Sept. 8.

 


Colin KillianAbout the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian)has been with the City of College Station since 2010. He previously served 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also done extensive volunteer work for the U.S. Olympic Committee and worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

Photo Copyright: underverse/123RF Stock Photo

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Podcast: How Kersten evolved from lifeguard to budget man

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

If you start out as a lifeguard and work hard, then you, too, can someday become an assistant city manager of a mid-sized university community. That’s the true story of Jeff Kersten, longtime budget and finance savant for the City of College Station.

Kersten spent his first visit to the podcast guest seat talking about his career path, what it’s like to shift fiscal priorities whenever a new city council or city manager comes along, and what he sees as the city’s financial challenges in the future.

After a tacky start to the interview, Kersten and I got down to business.

Click below to listen. If Soundcloud doesn’t play in your older version of Internet Explorer, click here to listen to the audio file from your system.

 

Podcast Archive


csf_jsocolAbout the Author

Jay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his seventh year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. He is a native of Breckenridge.


 

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Notes from Budget Workshop No. 3 (Wednesday)

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By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council had the last of three workshops regarding the proposed FY16 city budget Wednesday afternoon at the CSU Meeting and Training Facility.

Monday’s meeting covered general budget issues, the general fund, capital projects, and debt service. Tuesday’s session focused on outside agency funding.

Wednesday’s workshop covered governmental and special funds and an increase in the utility fund transfer to cover additional pay increases for police and certain other city employees. The meeting was called to order at 3:05 p.m. and was adjourned at 6:15 p.m.

Here’s the Powerpoint received by the council: (more…)


Notes from Budget Workshop No. 2 (Tuesday)

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By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council had its second workshop about the proposed FY16 city budget on Tuesday at the CSU Meeting and Training Facility.

Click here to review the notes from Monday’s meeting. The third workshop will be Wednesday at 3 p.m., with a fourth scheduled for Thursday, if needed.

Tuesday’s session primarily covered the city’s funding of outside agencies and the hotel tax fund.

The meeting was called to order at 3:11 p.m. and was adjourned at 7:30 p.m. Mayor Nancy Berry opened the meeting with a moment of silence in memory of longtime College Station firefighter Bart Humphreys, who passed away Tuesday morning at the age of 63. Humphreys retired in 2014.

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Proposed FY16 Budget presented to city council

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By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

It’s no secret that College Station is one of the country’s fastest growing small cities. Our population has increased about 36 percent in the last decade.

Over 103,000 people now call College Station home — and more are on the way. Conservative estimates say we could add another 40,000 residents in the next 10 years, with the student populations at Texas A&M and Blinn College continuing to expand.

With that rapid growth comes a demand for adequate infrastructure and core services related to public safety and parks.

City staff has spent months studying the city’s immediate and long-range needs while consulting with residents and other stakeholder groups. The result is what we consider a responsible FY2016 budget that will help us keep pace with our growth and meet the increased demand for city services we expect in the coming years.

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CS achieves top level for financial transparency

transparencyBy Cheryl Wright, Accounting and Treasury Operations Manager

The City of College Station’s Fiscal Services Department recently earned the distinction of becoming a platinum member of the Texas Comptroller’s Leadership Circle.

We’ve been honored in recent years with a pair of Gold Awards, but only nine of 46 cities with populations of at least 75,000 are platinum members. Before you start thinking this is boring accounting stuff and wondering why you should care, let me explain.

This distinction means the City of College Station has achieved the highest level of online financial transparency when it comes to spending your hard-earned tax dollars.

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Unexpected Change Comes to City Hall

Learning something new every day is one of the best parts of my job.  That’s what happens when I work among specialists (engineers, planners, police officers, firefighters, attorneys, utilities experts), interact with citizens and track down answers almost daily to media questions.

A couple of weeks ago, the city’s Fiscal Services Office called and asked if I knew of a bank or private business that could exchange foreign currency into American dollars.  It seems Fiscal had taken possession of coins — no paper money — from at least 30 different countries, but hadn’t been able to find a way to convert them to U.S. dollars.

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