Posts tagged “budget

Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Sept. 26)

Sitting (L-R): Mayor Pro Tem Linda Harvell, Mayor Karl Mooney, Elianor Vessali. Standing (L-R): Bob Brick, Jerome Rektorik, John Nichols, Dennis Maloney.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Sept. 26. It’s not the official minutes.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink channel 19 or online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:39 p.m.

The workshop has started. The council took no action out of the executive session.

5:50 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. Councilmembers pulled these consent items for workshop discussion:

  • Bingo Fee Collection: The resolution continues the city’s share of the prize fees awarded at bingo games conducted in College Station after Jan. 1 as required by new state law.
  • Holleman Drive Speed Limit: The ordinance would change the speed limit from 60 mph to 40 on Holleman Drive South between North Dowling Road and Rock Prairie Road. A recently completed project widened Holleman to four lanes with a median/center turn lane.

6:19 p.m.

Residential Parking

The council reviewed city ordinances, policies, and practices related to parking in residential areas. The discussion included parking in school zones, parking removal policies, parking pavement coverage on residential lots, and game day parking.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:40 p.m.

Traffic Calming Policy

The council received an update on the city’s traffic calming policy, which allows staff to be more responsive to resident’s requests and creates a ranking matrix of neighborhood plans based on safety criteria.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:47 p.m.

Mayor Karl Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports. The regular meeting will start after a short break.

6:57 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

7:03 p.m.

MDA Fill The Boot Days

Mayor Mooney proclaimed Oct. 10-12 as the College Station Fire Department’s “Fill the Boot” days benefitting the Muscular Dystrophy Association.

7:07 p.m.

TAAF Games of Texas

Mayor Mooney presented a shadow box to Texas Amateur Athletic Federation Executive Director Mark Lord. The box contains mementos from the TAAF’s 2019 Summer Games of Texas that were conducted here in July. Lord also presented the city with a plaque in appreciation of its support of the games.

The event attracted 8,461 athletes from across the state to compete in 12 sports. Only 130 participants were local, which means the rest – along with about 20,000 of their coaches, family members, and friends – were visitors who dropped an estimated $8.1 million into the local economy.

7:10 p.m.

Hear Visitors

One person spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens might address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda.

  • Councilwoman Elianor Vessali recognized Army Capt. Rowdy J. Inman as part of the Fallen Heroes Project. The 38-year-old Panorama Village native died of combat wounds on Dec. 22, 2007, in Mosul, Iraq.

7:15 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve these consent agenda items:

  • Renewal of six master agreements for real estate appraisal services with Duff &

Phelps, JLL Valuation & Advisory Services, Lowery Property Advisors, Paul Hornsby & Company, S.T. Lovett & Associates and Valbridge Property Advisors.

  • A $144,060, three-year contract with Frontier Communications for a 2-gigabyte internet connection.
  • A resolution adopting the Fire Department’s fees, rates, and charges.
  • Annual blanket orders not to exceed $1,065,070.50 for electric inventory items: Techline ($658,887), KBS Electric ($253,115), Texas Electric Cooperative ($92,975), and Anixter ($60,093).
  • A resolution approving the continued receipt of a share of the bingo prize fees awarded at bingo games conducted in College Station after Jan. 1.
  • FY20 insurance premiums for all lines of coverage not to exceed $650,000, including Excess Liability and Workers’ Compensation Insurance, Property/Boiler & Machinery, Commercial Crime, EMT Liability, Auto Property Damage, Cyber Liability, Unmanned Aircraft liability and property, and Special Events.
  • Renewal of the annual price agreement not to exceed is $503,214.55 for electric three-phase pad mount transformers with KBS Electrical Distributors.
  • A $3.28 million contract with Larry Young Paving to construct Phase 1 of the widening of Greens Prairie Trail.
  • An ordinance temporarily changing the posted speed limit to 30 mph on Greens Prairie Road from 1,000 feet west of Woodlake Drive to the Royder Road Intersection during the Greens Prairie Road Widening Project.

This item was voted on separately:

  • The council voted unanimously approved a motion by Councilman John Nichols to postpone until Oct. 7 the vote on the ordinance changing the posted speed limit on Holleman Drive South from North Dowling Road to the Rock Prairie Road Intersection. The limit in the ordinance was 40 mph, and Nichols motion asked that it be 45.

7:26 p.m.

Assistance to Firefighters Grant

The council voted unanimously to approve a resolution accepting a $315,597 Assistance to Firefighters Grant. The funds will be used for the Blue Card Hazard Zone Incident Command Training and Certification Program and source-capturing diesel exhaust removal systems for fire stations.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:40 p.m.

Fun for All Playground Phase 2

The council voted unanimously to approve a $1.8 million contract for Phase 2 of the Fun for All Playground at Central Park. The second phase includes a stadium with bleachers and a quarter-scale artificial turf field. 

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:46 p.m.

Budget Amendment

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a $325,000 amendment to the FY19 city budget. 

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:18 p.m.

FY 20 Budget Adoption

The council voted 6-1 to adopt the city’s FY 20 budget of $341.2 million, which includes a general fund budget of $105.2 million and capital projects totaling $57.9 million. Councilwoman Elianor Vessali voted against the budget. A public hearing on the budget was Sept. 12.

In a second vote, the council voted 6-1 to ratify the increase in property tax revenue reflected in the budget. Councilwoman Vessali voted against the motion.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:56 p.m.

FY 20 Tax Rate Adoption

The council voted 5-2 to adopt the FY 20 proposed property tax rate of $0.534618 per $100 assessed value, a $.028777-cent increase. Councilwoman Vessali and Councilman Jerome Rektorik voted against the motion. The proposed rate will generate $51.7 million for debt service and city operations. Four residents spoke against the tax increase.

Public hearings on the tax rate were Aug. 22 and Sept. 12.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

9:06 p.m.

Texas Independence Ballpark Midtown College Station

The council voted unanimously to officially name the new park on Rock Prairie Road as Texas Independence Ballpark Midtown College Station. The council also named the complex’s eight ball fields as Gonzales, Goliad, Alamo, San Jacinto, Sabine River, Rio Grande, Red River, and Lone Star.

The park had been temporarily called Southeast Park.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

9:22 p.m.

Texas A&M Ticket Reselling

The council voted unanimously to approve an ordinance related to Texas A&M ticket reselling, along with an inter-local agreement with the university for related law enforcement assistance. 

Reselling of A&M football tickets often results in unsuspecting buyers purchasing invalid or counterfeit tickets. The ordinance requires a university permitting process. It doesn’t impact the occasional resale of personal tickets. The agreement allows university police to help the city with enforcement.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

9:24 p.m.

BVSWMA Board Appointment

The council voted 6-0-1 to reappoint Councilman John Nichols to the Brazos Valley Solid Waste Management Agency’s board of directors. Nichols abstained from the vote.

9:24 p.m.

The council discussed and reviewed future agenda items.

9:24 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again on Monday, Oct. 7.

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian 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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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (about 5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Residential Parking: In the workshop, the council will discuss city ordinances, policies, and practices related to parking in residential areas, including school zones, removal policies, pavement coverage on residential lots, and Aggie football game day parking. The council will also review updates on the city’s traffic calming policy.
  2. Greens Prairie Trail Widening: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $3.28 million contract the reconstruction of Greens Prairie Trail from the city limit west of Woodlake intersection to Royder Road. The project will replace the existing asphalt road with a four-lane minor arterial concrete road.
  3. Fun for All Playground Phase 2: The council will consider a $1.8 million contract for Phase 2 of the Fun for All Playground at Central Park. The second phase includes a stadium with bleachers and a quarter-scale artificial turf field. Citizens and charitable organizations donated about $1.3 million for the project, and $546,000 comes from parkland funds.
  4. FY20 Budget, Tax Rate Adoption: In separate items, the council will consider adopting the proposed FY20 budget and property tax rate. The $341.2 million budget includes a general fund of $105.2 million and capital projects totaling $57.9 million. The proposed tax rate of $0.534618 per $100 assessed value is a $.028778-cent increase and would generate $51.7 million for debt service and city operations. The owner of an average-price home in College Station ($280,000) would pay about $8.58 more per month.
  5. Texas Independence Ballpark Midtown College Station: The council will consider officially naming the new park on Rock Prairie Road East as Texas Independence Ballpark Midtown College Station. The council will also consider naming the complex’s eight ball fields as Gonzales, Goliad, Alamo, San Jacinto, Sabine River, Rio Grande, Red River, and Lone Star. The park had been temporarily called Southeast Park.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


About the Blogger

Colin Killian 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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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (Sept. 12)

Sitting (L-R): Mayor Pro Tem Linda Harvell, Mayor Karl Mooney, Eleanor Vessali. Standing (L-R): Bob Brick, Jerome Rektorik, John Nichols, Dennis Maloney.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Sept. 12. It’s not the official minutes.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink channel 19 or online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:06 p.m.

The workshop has started. Councilman Dennis Maloney is absent tonight.

The council took no action out of the executive session.

5:10 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. Councilmembers pulled this consent item for workshop discussion:

  • Infrastructure Participation Agreement: The agreement prepares a section of The Business Center at College Station Phase II for development with the addition of needed infrastructure, including detention, sidewalks, shared driveway access, and sewer. The city is under contract to sell about seven acres. The agreement details the cost-sharing of infrastructure outlined in the real estate contract. In general, the shared infrastructure will be designed by the city to standards and requirements. Grand Jr. will construct the shared infrastructure, and the city will reimburse for its portion once the items are completed, inspected and accepted.
  • Justice Assistance Grant: The Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant program is the primary provider of federal criminal justice funding to state and local jurisdictions and funds all components of the criminal justice system. The CSPD intends to use this funding to support local initiatives, technical assistance, training, equipment, supplies, or information technology projects that will enhance law enforcement programs.

5:27 p.m.

CodeFest Review

The council reviewed the city’s first CodeFest Aug. 17-18 at the Meyer Center. Funded entirely by sponsorships, the event attracted 45 participants from College Station, Austin, and Houston.

The nine teams developed three apps and six websites focusing on various community needs. The top team won $1,000, with second place taking home $500. A second Codefest is tentatively planned for Jan. 25.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

5:34 p.m.

Mayor Karl Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports. The regular meeting will start at 6 p.m.

6:00 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

6:07 p.m.

Constitution Week

Mayor Mooney proclaimed Sept. 17-23 as Constitution Week in College Station in recognition of America’s most important document. The United States Constitution stands as a testament to the tenacity of Americans throughout history to maintain their liberties, freedoms, and inalienable rights.

6:32 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Seven people spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens might address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda.

  • Councilwoman Elianor Vessali recognized Army Capt. Sean E. Lyerly as part of the Fallen Heroes Project. The 31-year-old Pflugerville native died in a helicopter crash on Jan. 20, 2007 in Baghdad, Iraq.
  • Jacob Prazak of the College Station Professional Firefighters Association spoke about an effective new cancer screening for firefighters. He also spoke in support of the proposed increase in the property tax rate.
  • David Scott spoke against the process behind the clearing of trees in Lick Creek Park for the installation of a sewer line. He asked the city to restore the habitat that has been destroyed.
  • Donell Frankes spoke about the sewer work in Lick Creek Park. She said the scheduling of the work caused significant disruption to park programs and activities.
  • Jackie Girouard spoke about the destruction of Lick Creek Park caused by the sewer pipeline work.
  • Cheryl Lewis spoke about the threat to native vegetation and water resources in Lick Creek Park.
  • Sandy Dillard spoke about the threat to vital bird habitat in Lick Creek Park.

6:33 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • A participation agreement with Grand Jr. for constructing public infrastructure. City participation is not to exceed $208,851, excluding fixed fees.
  • Documents relating to the property owners association in The Business Center at College Station.
  • FY20 funds for items exempt from competitive bidding and other expenditures for inter-local contracts or fees mandated by state law that are greater than $100,000.
  • A negotiated settlement agreement between the Atmos Cities Steering Committee and Atmos Energy Corp.-Mid-Tex Division regarding the company’s 2019 rate review mechanism filings with rate tariffs and proof of revenues.
  • Amendments to certain sections of the city’s Code of Ordinances related to the Northgate Parking Garage Gate.
  • The annual price agreement not to exceed $120,000 with Corn’s Collision Center for heavy truck paint and body repairs.
  • An inter-local agreement with Brazos County and the City of Bryan to apply for and accept a 2019 Justice Assistance Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice.
  • The addition of a four-way stop intersection at Church Avenue east and westbound at Second Street and the public way of the Northgate surface parking lot.
  • Renewal of contracts for prefabricated signs and sign blanks with Vulcan Signs ($54,224.50) and for posts and hardware with Dobie Supply ($61,585.00).

6:42 p.m.

FY20 Budget Public Hearing

The council conducted a public hearing on the city’s proposed budget for the 2019-20 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. The total budget is about $341.2 million. The budget is scheduled for adoption Sept. 26. Two people spoke in the public hearing, one against waste in the budget and the other in support of the city’s workforce.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:02 p.m.

FY20 Tax Rate Public Hearing

The council conducted its final public hearing on the city’s proposed FY20 property tax rate of .534618 per $100 of assessed value, a $.028778-cent increase. The proposed rate would generate $51.7 million in revenue for general debt service and operations and maintenance. Five people spoke against the rate increase. (Blogger’s note: I originally wrote here that one of the speakers supported the increase. I misunderstood the intent of the speaker’s statement and regret the error.)   

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:02 p.m.

Rock Prairie-Fitch Rezoning

This item was pulled from tonight’s agenda and will be considered at a later date.

7:19 p.m.

Texas Avenue South Land Use

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the land use from Suburban Commercial and Natural Areas Reserved to General Commercial, Urban, and Natural Areas Reserved for almost nine acres at 2709 Texas Avenue South. One person spoke in the public hearing.

The change will allow for commercial and multi-family development. 

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:29 p.m.

University Drive East Land Use

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the land use from Natural Areas Reserved to General Commercial for about 1.3 acres at 3030 University Drive East. The changes would allow for a medical office in an existing building.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:36 p.m.

University Drive East Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the zoning from Light Industrial to General Commercial for about 1.3 acres at 3030 University Drive East. The changes would allow for a medical office in an existing building.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:42 p.m.

The council discussed and reviewed future agenda items.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the meeting. The council meets again on Thursday, Sept. 26.

 


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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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (about 5 p.m.) and regular (6 p.m.) meetings.

Here are five items to watch:

  1. Texas Weekend of Remembrance: In the workshop, the council will review the 2019 Texas Weekend of Remembrance held Memorial Day weekend.
  2. 2020 U.S. Census: The council will hear a workshop presentation about the 2020 U.S. Census. A resolution supporting the census is part of the regular meeting’s consent agenda.
  3. Public Hearing on Proposed Tax Rate: In the regular meeting, the council will conduct the first public hearing on the city’s proposed FY20 property tax rate of .534618 per $100 of assessed value. The second public hearing is Sept. 12.
  4. Strategic Partnership Agreement: The council will conduct the second public hearing on a proposed strategic partnership agreement with Brazos County Municipal Utility District No. 2. The agreement outlines conditions for district annexation and limited-purpose commercial annexation.
  5. Senior Affordable Housing: The council will consider approving $463,000 in federal grant funds for purchase and rehabilitation costs for four affordable duplexes for income-eligible seniors at 3312 -3314 Normand Drive and 3337-3339 Longleaf Circle.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


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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City’s FY20 budget addresses current, future challenges

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The City of College Station’s proposed FY 2020 budget continues the city’s focus on public safety while providing resources for essential current and future infrastructure projects.

The $341 million budget was presented to the city council on Monday at the first of three dedicated workshops at the CSU Meeting and Training Facility. Additional workshops will be Tuesday and Wednesday.

 

General Fund RevenueThe proposed budget is about $19.7 million below last year’s budget because of the timing of capital project appropriations. The governmental fund’s budget totals about $105.2 million. This includes the general fund, which pays for public safety, public works, planning and development services, and administration. Enterprise budgets such as utilities are about $146 million and capital projects are just over $71.1 million. Special revenue fund budgets such as hotel taxes, community development, roadway maintenance, and impact fees total about $18.8 million and have restricted uses.

General Fund Expenditures

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.

The proposed budget includes a 2.8777-cent increase in the property tax rate to 53.4618 cents per $100 of assessed value. Electric and wastewater rates won’t change, but a 15% increase is recommended for water rates to meet our existing and future capital infrastructure needs related to growth, and to ensure the water fund remains at stable levels in the coming years.

The first public hearing on the tax rate will be Aug. 22 at city hall. The city council will conduct public hearings on both the tax rate and budget on Sept. 12, with adoption set for Sept. 26.

“We proposed this budget in a way to address the needs of a growing community, as well as to maintain the excellent quality of life for our current residents,” City Manager Bryan Woods said. “We must, of course, always be prudent with available resources. The proposed budget attempts to take a strategic approach to address our community’s short- and long-term needs.”

While continued growth is a positive thing, the rapid pace strains city services such as public safety, transportation, and utility systems, as well as other core services.

Here are seven major points to consider about the proposed budget:

  1. Since 2009, our population has grown over 30% (about 40,000). During the same period, the student population grew nearly 34%, not counting the RELLIS Campus.
  2. Perhaps for the first time in College Station’s recent history, FY20 will see sales tax revenues being less than property tax revenues. That’s not all bad news, but it does show how sales tax can be a cyclical revenue stream.
  3. SB2, which will affect all Texas cities beginning in FY21, will limit our ability to generate the revenue needed to keep up with current needs, and certainly won’t provide a sustainable funding path for future growth.
  4. While property values are up, and we’ve seen positive developments in all parts of the city, we have seen an increase in the amount of exempt property with more than $2 billion of value now exempt. Those exemptions include much of what’s owned by the state of Texas, places of worship and faith-affiliated hospitals, seniors over the age of 65, and more.
  5. Healthcare costs continue to rise. The city has also recognized these increases, which contributes to the need to ensure salaries and benefits remain competitive for recruiting and retaining a workforce that’s able to meet our citizens’ expectations.
  6. Our employees are being asked to do far more than ever as the number of city workers per 1,000 citizens has declined. And while dozens more police and fire professionals have come aboard in the last decade — yet still fall short of recommended levels — the overall number of city employees remains relatively unchanged during that time frame.
  7. Our recent citizen survey identified a long list of city services that remain important to our residents, yet they also say we have lost ground in terms of the quality of those services.

Population Growth

Continued growth in the city’s overall and student populations must be addressed and play a major role in the budget process.

From 2010-19, College Station’s has population grown 30.5%, from 93,857 in the 2010 U.S. Census to an estimated 122,162 in 2019. The continued growth factor used in the five-year forecast is 2.5% for FY 2020-24.

The college student population grew 33.5% from 2008 to the fall of 2018. The enrollment numbers don’t include the impact of the RELLIS campus opening last fall in Bryan.

Sales Tax Revenues

Revenue sources for the General Fund include property and sales taxes, fines, service charges, and a transfer from enterprises such as utilities that are city-owned.

The sales tax rate is 8.25%, of which 6.25% goes to the state, 0.5% goes to Brazos County, and 1.5% goes to the City of College Station.

Sales tax revenue is difficult to predict since it depends on how much consumers spend. Growth in the city’s sales tax revenue has slowed substantially, rising only 2.5% in the two years from 2017 -2019.

For FY 2020, the city is budgeting only a 1% increase in sales tax revenue, well below the expected inflation rate. FY 2019 sales tax revenue is projected to fall $600,000 below budget.

FY 2021-24 forecasts include increases in sales tax revenue by 1.75% in both FY 2021 and FY 2022, and by 2% in both FY 2023 and FY 2024.

Property Values

The total net taxable certified value of property in College Station for 2019 is about $9.9 billion, an increase of 5.79% from 2018. About $308.2 million in new value was added to the tax rolls, and existing values rose by 1.88%.

Single-family homes have made up 46.6% of the total market value since FY 2013, while Multi-family has increased by 2.4%, and commercial properties have decreased by 3.0%. Properties that are exempt from ad valorem taxes – such as Texas A&M and other government-owned properties — have increased 3.1%, which has had a significant revenue impact.

Property Taxes

The City of College Station’s existing property tax rate of $.505841 per $100 of assessed value is just over 22% of the total $2.362841 rate paid by local citizens. The College Station Independent School District’s rate is $1.37200 while Brazos County is at $.485000.

Since 2010, the city’s population has grown 30.5%, while inflation has (CPI-U Index) has been 18.16%. The tax rate in that period has grown only 13.91%.

Based on the final property value numbers received, the FY 2020 effective tax rate — the rate that will raise the same revenue on the same properties — is $.495757 per $100 of assessed value. The adjusted rollback rate – the highest rate allowed before citizens can petition to lower the rate to the rollback rate – is $.534618.

Proposed Tax Rate

Earlier this year, Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation to change the cap on the rollback rate from 8% to 3.5% effective for FY 2021. It also reduced the franchise fees the city receives for the use of rights-of-way.

Starting last spring, department directors took a critical look at departmental expenses and made recommendations to the city manager about prioritizing needs and how to address the revenue limitations.

City management recommends a proposed rate of $.534618 per $100 of assessed value, an increase of 2.8777 cents. Under the proposed rate, the owner of a $280,000 home would pay an additional $8.58 a month. Each cent on the tax rate generates about $820,000 that can be spent.

The proposed rate strategically addresses funding for existing commitments as well as known future needs. Woods recommends that about one-third of the revenue generated by the tax rate increase this year be held in the fund balance.

Financial Stability

The fund balance is the city’s safety net for emergencies or a downturn. Over the last several years actual fund balance has been between 20-25% of expenses. Bond-rating agencies encourage us to keep a balance equal to approximately 25% of expenses to get the lowest interest rates on our debt. The proposed budget formally moves the budgeted fund balance requirement from 15% to 18%. This demonstrates a commitment to maintain healthy fund balance reserves.

The FY 2020 budget is strategically designed to generate additional funds of approximately $1.5 million to begin addressing current and future public safety needs, including additional police officers and initial staffing for Fire Station No. 7. A study earlier this year found that we need 23 additional sworn officers.

Fundamental Shift

Before this year, sales taxes were the largest source of General Fund revenue. In FY 2020, sales tax provides 34.5% of the budget, while proposed property taxes provide the largest source of General Fund revenue at 35.3%.

That marks a fundamental shift in the primary revenue source for funding the majority of city services such as police, fire, and roads. The shift is small, but it represents funding stability for our existing commitments as well as a stable revenue source to provide for the needs of the future.

If approved, the city’s overall property tax rate would still rank among the lower half of Texas cities with populations of 75,000-150,000. Only five cities in our population group have a lower operations and maintenance tax rate than College Station’s proposed $.313175.

City Workforce

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 city trimmed its budget significantly in the years after the 2008 economic downturn. While the police and fire departments grew in the last decade, most other services and departments remained relatively flat.

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 accounted for 44% of the general fund budget in 2009, but by 2019, those departments comprised about 51%.

Meanwhile, the number of city employees per 1,000 population has decreased significantly from 9.7 in 2011 to 8.4 people in 2019. Most of the new city employees in the last decade have been in public safety. The Police Department has added 49 positions (both sworn and civilian) since 2010, while Fire had grown by 42 employees.

The elimination of the jail in the new police facility allows us to reclassify the detention officer positions into three police officer and five police assistant positions. Two other officers are also included in the budget.

Overall, the proposed budget adds 24 full-time equivalent employees, with 16 in public safety.  The six new firefighter positions are contingent upon the award of a federal grant, which will be determined in late August. Half of the salaries of the two new employees in parks will be covered by the Hotel Tax Fund.

Since the city provides essential services, it stands to reason that the largest general fund expense is for salaries and benefits. It’s vital that the compensation plan and benefits attract and retain qualified employees in a highly competitive environment.

City Services

Increased growth puts demands on resources and results in the need for service level increases. Service level adjustment highlights include:    

  • Police Department: 5 patrol officers and 2 vehicles; 5 police assistants.
  • Fire Department: 6 firefighters using pending SAFER Grant Award; Station-4 building maintenance.
  • Public Works: Attenuator truck, corrective facilities maintenance.
  • Parks and Recreation: Southeast Park crew Leader, grounds worker, and maintenance equipment.
  • Municipal Court: New operating software.
  • Economic Development: Economic development coordinator.
  • Information Technology: Cybersecurity service, firewall refresh, replacement software for open records requests.
  • Electric Utility: Comprehensive cost-of-service study, asset management system for substations and protection and control devices, relay foreman and vehicle, electric project coordinator/designer.
  • Water Services: Water rate restructuring review concurrent with wastewater.
  • Wastewater Services: Wastewater rate restructuring review concurrent with water, collection flow monitoring equipment.
  • Solid Waste: Street sweeper vehicle and operator.
  • Northgate: Surveillance camera system maintenance, funding for the temporary Boyett Street closure on peak nights.

Capital Projects and Infrastructure

The $71.1 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.

Significant capital projects for FY20 include:

  • Final construction of the new police station.
  • Construction of a new city hall.
  • Royder Road Phase II.
  • Greens Prairie Road from city limits west of Woodlake to Royder Road.
  • Jones Butler intersection improvements.
  • Continued digital electric meter installation.
  • Final construction of the Graham Road Electric Substation.
  • Construction of the Rock Prairie Road elevated water storage tank.
  • Construction of Northeast Sewer Trunkline Phase III.
  • Improvements to the Carters Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant centrifuge.
  • Expansion of the Lick Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant.
  • Completion of Southeast Park Phase I.

The 2019-20 fiscal year is shaping up as another busy one for the City of College Station, which has many formidable challenges ahead. The proposed budget provides the resources to address these challenges while laying a firm and stable foundation for our future.

 


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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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (July 25)

Sitting (L-R): Mayor Pro Tem Linda Harvell, Mayor Karl Mooney, Eleanor Vessali. Standing (L-R): Bob Brick, Jerome Rektorik, John Nichols, Dennis Maloney.

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, July 25. It’s not the official minutes.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink channel 19 or online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:22 p.m.

The workshop has started. Councilman Bob Brick is not present tonight but is joining the meeting via teleconference.

The council took no action out of its executive session, but Mayor Karl Mooney announced that the future agenda item regarding Thomas Park improvements requested on July 11 has been withdrawn. The contract approved at the meeting will move forward.

5:26 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. Councilmembers pulled this consent item for workshop discussion:

  • Strategic Behavioral Health: The item concerns the mutual termination of the tax abatement agreement and approval of an economic development agreement with Strategic Behavioral Health.

6:23 p.m.

Neighborhood Conservation Overlay District

The council reviewed recommendations related to the Neighborhood Conservation Overlay zoning district and its associated standards and processes.

Based on lessons learned and direction received over the past year, staff presented potential NCO modifications to the council in March, including amendments to the process, district boundaries, specific NCO standards for inclusion, and the number of unrelated as a part of NCO.

Note: Due to technical difficulties, Councilman Brick left the meeting via teleconference at 6:14 p.m.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:23 p.m.

Mayor Mooney suspended the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports. The workshop will resume after the regular meeting, which will start after a short break.

6:32 p.m.

The regular meeting has started.

6:38 p.m.

Professional Engineers Day

The mayor proclaimed Aug. 7 as Professional Engineers Day to recognize City of College Station engineers for their significant contributions to the community through the application of scientific knowledge, mathematics, and ingenuity in solving technical, societal, and commercial problems.

6:45 p.m.

A&M Garden Club, La Villita Awards

The mayor recognized recent awards received by the A&M Garden Club and the La Villita Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution.

In May, the A&M Garden Club won a first-place National Garden Club award in the Historic Preservation Project category for its work with the Parks and Recreation Department and community service projects at Richard Carter Park. The club also for first for its educational publication “Milkweed for Monarch Butterflies.”

The La Villita Chapter of the DAR earned a first-place award in the Historic Preservation Contest for at the Texas DAR state convention in March for its historic preservation work. The South Central DAR also awarded the La Villita Chapter a second-place award for its work at Carter Park and during the 80th College Station Celebration event.

6:57 p.m.

Hear Visitors

Three people spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens might address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda.

  • Councilwoman Elianor Vessali recognized Army Capt. Anthony R. Garcia as part of the Fallen Heroes Project. The 48-year-old Fort Worth native died on Feb. 17, 2006, in Tikrit, Iraq, from a gunshot wound.
  • Jorge Sanchez asked the city to support the establishment of a farmers’ market in the Midtown development.
  • Brian Alg spoke against using taxpayer money to fund a YMCA.

6:57 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • Set a general election for Nov. 5 to elect a mayor and city council member Place 2, established early voting locations and polling places and made provisions for conducting the election.
  • An inter-local agreement with Brazos County to conduct and manage College Station’s general election Nov. 5.
  • The first renewal of an annual $115,847 contract with DXI Industries for sodium hypochlorite for water services.
  • The first renewal of a contract not to exceed $5 million with Brazos Paving for base failure repairs and pavement treatments.
  • The removal of parking on both sides of Diamondback Drive between Arrington Road and 435 feet west of Oldham Oaks Avenue and both sides of Oldham Oaks Avenue between Diamondback and Crystal Ridge Court.
  • The removal of parking on the west side of Martin Wing Way between Diamondback and Pearl River Court, the east side of Martin Wing Way between Crystal Ridge and Diamondback, the south side of Crystal Ridge from Oldham Oaks to around the cul-de-sac, the north side of Crystal Ridge between Pearl River and Oldham Oaks, around the cul-de-sac and north side of Pearl River to Martin Wing Way, the north side of Pearl River between Martin Wing Way and Crystal Ridge, the south side of Pearl River from Crystal Ridge to around the cul-de-sac, the south side of Pearl River between 225 feet north of Crystal Ridge to 375 feet north of Crystal Ridge, and the north side of Pearl River between 345 feet south of Crystal Ridge and 275 feet south of Crystal Ridge.
  • The mutual termination of a tax abatement agreement and approval of an economic development agreement with Strategic Behavioral Health.
  • The sale of about seven acres in the College Station Business Center near the intersection of State Highway 6 and Gateway Boulevard.

7:05 p.m.

BVSWMA Budget

The council voted unanimously to approve the Brazos Valley Solid Waste Management Agency’s FY20 budget, which reduces the gate rate for the City of College Station and City of Bryan from $18.50 to $17.50 per ton.

The budget includes $6.8 million in operating expenses, $3.8 million in capital expenses, and $9.54 million in revenue.  Total reserves, cash, and investments are $11.23 million.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:13 p.m.

Street Name Changes

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to rename Greens Prairie Road West and Greens Prairie Trail to enhance emergency response efficiency.

The action changes Greens Prairie Road West to Victoria Avenue between Wellborn Road and Victoria, to Woodlake Drive between Victoria and Woodlake, and to Greens Prairie Road between Highway 6 and the city limits. Greens Prairie Trail between Wellborn and the city limits becomes Greens Prairie Road.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:18 p.m.

Multi-Family Parkland Dedication

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve modifications to the city’s parkland dedication program to make land dedication requirements proportional and less complex for multi-family developments.

The audit found that a cost-neutral conversion may be achieved by increasing the land dedication requirements from 49 bedrooms to 278 bedrooms per acre for neighborhood parks and 53 bedrooms to 305 bedrooms per acre for community parks.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:28 p.m.

Cain Road Crossing Closure

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to close the Cain Road crossing of the Union Pacific Railroad with the opening of the new Deacon Drive Union Pacific Railroad Crossing.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:33 p.m.

Southwood Sidewalk Project

The council voted unanimously to support and authorize a grant application to the Texas Department of Transportation for the Southwood Sidewalk Project to fill a sidewalk gap and help provide a safe route to schools between the Southwood Valley and South Knoll/Southside neighborhoods.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:58 p.m.

Brazos County MUD No. 2 Consent

The council voted unanimously to consent to the formation of Brazos County Municipal Utility District No. 2 and up to four additional municipal utility districts in the Millican Reserve development in the city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction along Peach Creek between Wellborn Road and Highway 6.

The MUDs will develop, operate, maintain, and issue bonds to finance infrastructure for the districts and levy and assess a tax on district properties to cover associated expenses.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:58 p.m.

Brazos County MUD No. 2 Partnership

The council conducted the first of two public hearings on a proposed strategic partnership agreement with Brazos County Municipal Utility District No. 2 that outlines conditions for district annexation and limited-purpose commercial annexation. No one spoke during the hearing.

The second public hearing is scheduled for the August 22 council meeting when the council can vote on the agreement.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:59 p.m.

Brazos County MUD No. 2 Utilities

The council voted unanimously to approve a utility agreement covering water, wastewater, and roads with Brazos County Municipal Utility District No. 2.

The MUD lies within the Wellborn Special Utility District for water service and itself provides for wastewater treatment and collection, including a treatment plant, shared sewer lines, and lift stations. Roads will be constructed to county standards and owned and maintained by the county.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:00 p.m.

Brazos County MUD No. 2 Development

The council voted unanimously to approve an agreement with Millican Land Development, RB Meadows, and Rock Barn Conservation Partners that regulates development in Brazos County Municipal Utility District No. 2. The agreement addresses land use, density, and compliance with standards comparable to development in the city.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

8:01 p.m.

After the council discussed and reviewed future agenda items, Mayor Mooney adjourned the regular meeting. The workshop meeting will resume.

8:04 p.m.

Mayor Mooney adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar and received committee reports. The council returned to executive session to discuss an additional item.

The council meets again on Thursday, Aug. 8.

 


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.


 

If you found value in this blog post, please share it with your social network and friends!