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:

(more…)


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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