It is everyone’s favorite time again: Budget season. On Monday, staff distributed the $23 million, 100-plus page document to city council.

This amount of information can get overwhelming fast, so breaking it down by the highlights gives you a good idea of where the funds are coming from and going in the next year.

Revenues, or money coming in, is always the starting point. Here’s the highlights of the staff’s proposed budget:

• Property tax rates are dropping, but values are up. The city expects to receive the same amount of revenue as last year for this source. This could mean your tax bill looks lower than last year, depending on your gain in value and depending on what other taxing entities choose to adopt.

• Sales tax is higher than ever before. This results in a property tax decrease, but also puts a heavier reliance on a volatile revenue source. For now, staff is taking a very conservative approach by budgeting the same amount we collected this year.

• Water, sewer and garbage fees are also increasing. These funds only support the utility services and garbage. The garbage fee increase is directly correlated with the contract rate from the new provider, Texas Disposal Services. Water and sewer, unfortunately, need an increase to support debt and operations. Staff is working on ways to keep this increase as low as possible.

• There are many other sources of revenue including licenses and permits, fees, fines and interest, all of which have remained at the 2020 levels.

Expenses, or money going out, increased nearly 8.5 percent, and has several changes from last year:

• Personnel, which is our largest expense and composes 41 percent or $8.5 million of the budget, has a few changes from last year: a 3 percent raise for personnel, a 10 percent health insurance increase (or $80,319) to maintain existing coverage and a new position of Code Enforcement/Inspector Officer.

• Funding the needs of the police department remains a priority. Police vehicles and equipment, which includes a new Animal Control truck and a new vehicle for a police lieutenant are added. This also includes additional equipment, such as ammo, and mandated training.

• A focus on parks – the budget includes additional funding to work on the city’s aging playgrounds and parks equipment. Look for upgrades to the tennis courts at Friendship Park and paving of a section of the Willie Bell Park parking lot. Both of these initiatives come at the recommendation of the Parks and Recreation, Community Services Board and were presented to Council as part of the Capital Improvement Plan.

• Heavy emphasis on providing quality water and sewer to our citizens. This will include a wastewater study, provided by an engineer, to provide direction for future projects and funding. Water facilities maintenance on infrastructure, including the plants, ground storage tanks and elevated towers.

Extensive work on these facilities has not been performed since 2005. It also includes smoke tests to detect inflow and infiltration of storm water which backs up the system and has previously caused issues for residents. This will allow us to know where the cracks and points of entry are to prevent inundation during a rain event.

We’re not immune to the pricing increases everyone else has seen, and as a result have increased materials expense $15,000.

Want to stay engaged and up to date with how the city spends your funds? Follow the city on social medial or attend a meeting:

• Aug. 9: Staff will be hosting a workshop with the City Council to discuss the budget in detail at 5 p.m. at City Hall in Council Chambers.

• Aug. 23: Budget conversation will continue at the regularly scheduled City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall in Council Chambers.

• Sept. 13: Public Hearing on the budget will be held during the regularly scheduled City Council meeting at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall in Council Chamber.

• Sept. 27: Council adopts the budget and tax rate.

• Look up the City’s full proposed budget document and other financial information (such as the city’s checkbook) online at www.cityofelcampo.org.

The City of El Campo is regularly recognized for our financial reporting. The City’s budget makes it all possible by utilizing council’s strategic plan and our strong track record of fiscal responsibility.

 

 – Courtney Sladek is the city manager of El Campo.

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.