Media Center
  • Wednesday, July 05, 2017
    Proposed city budget has no utility rate increases

    No utility rate increases but a slight jump in the city of Brenham’s overall tax rate are being proposed in the 2017-18 budget.

    City council members this morning held the first of three days of workshops as they look to approve a budget expected to total about $64 million.

    Of that budget total, two-thirds are made up by the city’s utility departments, said City Manager Terry Roberts.

    A half-cent increase in the city’s tax used to pay off debt is being proposed, with the $64,640 it would generate being used to fund the city’s portion of repairs to drainage projects from flood damage in May 2016.

    The city has applied with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) for up to 75 percent reimbursement of the damage repair costs.

    That would leave the city responsible for about $655,000 in payments for drainage projects, said Roberts.

    The city will have to pay all of the costs of the repairs, then be reimbursed by FEMA.

    Roberts said will do “some interim financing” for that.

    While no utility rate hikes are being proposed in the 2017-18 budget, there has been some discussion of a five-year phase-in of incremental increases in the electrical department and possible increases in transfer/collection station rates, he told the council.

    Electric rates have not been increases in almost 15 years, with costs from the Lower Colorado River Authority, Brenham’s wholesale power supplier, being passed through to customers. The city, however, operates the distribution system.

    “We’ve lived with the same electric rate since 2003,” said Roberts.

    The city is expecting to see a boost in revenues from increased sales taxes and property values.

    Roberts said a 4 percent jump in sales taxes — almost $340,000 — is being projected.

    Property rolls have not yet been finalized, but the city is expecting an 8 percent jump of $95 million. Of that, however, only $14 million is “new growth,” with the remaining $84 million resulting from reappraisals, said Roberts.

    That is significant because reappraisals must be included in the calculation of the city’s effective tax rate — the rate which will generate the same amount of revenue, using new values.

    The proposed budget also includes $2.5 million in capital improvements and equipment, which includes $294,000 in improvements to Henderson Park and $150,000 for a new “linear” park in the area of First, Park and Church streets.

    Source: Brenham Banner-Press