Despite heavy attendance at the Sept. 11 Regular Meeting of the Navasota City Council, residents had no comment for or against the City’s proposed $43,788,755 budget during the required public hearing. Having viewed the detailed budget presentation before, followed by vigorous discussion at the Aug. 28 workshop, council moved quickly to approve the first reading of Ordinance No. 1029-23, adopting the FY 202324 budget with a show-of-hands record vote.
Preceding the opportunity for public comments, City Manager Jason Weeks presented a 45-minute fund-by-fund slide show review of revenue, expenditures, major budget items and capital projects.
Weeks said, “The budget has been created around our Strategic Plan that council put together for 2023-24.”
Budget points of interest include neighborhood park and city pool improvements, continued replacement of aging sewer and water lines, street maintenance, a new water tower, Wayfinding signage, preservation of the historic Horlock House, land purchases to enhance parking, utility and trash rate increases, projected revenue increases from sales tax, alcohol/mixed beverage tax and hotel/motel taxes and hiring nine additional personnel.
Staff additions include two firefighters, which when combined with part-time firefighters, will provide four fighters per shift. Navasota Police Department will add a patrol sergeant, a school resource officer to assist Navasota ISD comply with new state security mandates, and the reassignment of two officers to focus on narcotics activity and truck traffic downtown.
Values offset decrease
The City’s proposed tax rate of $0.5221 per $100 valuation for FY 2023-24 elicited no comments during the public hearing. With another show-of-hands record vote, council unanimously approved the first reading of Ordinance No. 1030-23 adopting the tax rate.
The adopted rate reflects a $0.0339 or 6.1% decrease from the current tax rate of $0.5560 but an “effective” increase of 2.67%.
Based on the average Navasota home value of $181,802, up from $168,468 last year, the average homeowner will see a property tax increase of $12.51 to $949.19.
The final required budget-related item was the ratification of the tax rate increase reflected in the budget. Despite tax rate reductions, higher property values generate increased property tax revenue. Texas House Bill 3195 passed in 2007 requires taxing entities to vote to ratify that increased revenue. Council members unanimously approved the ratification of a property tax revenue increase of $268,455 for FY 2023-24. Of that amount, $185,871 will come from new property added to the tax roll.
The final public hearing and second reading of the budget and tax rate will be held during the Sept. 25 council meeting. View the budget presentation at https://www.navasotatx.gov/alert_detail.php.
Trash pickup to cost more
Council approved the first reading of Ordinance No. 103223, amending the fee schedule for sanitation rates. The $1.69 monthly increase for trash collection is a pass-through charge from Republic Services which increased their fees by 7.7% based on the Consumer Price Index. The current $22.01 monthly fee will increase to $23.70 Feb. 1, 2024.
Utility hike targets usage
Following a significant silence and a few questions related to the 2022 NewGen Strategies & Solutions water study, council unanimously approved Ordinance No. 1031-23, amending the fee schedule for water, gas and sewer monthly rates effective Oct. 1.
Having already implemented a fee based on water meter size, average water users with 0.75-inch water meters will see a base rate increase from $15.92 to $18.65. The fee for 1-inch meters will jump to $24.87. Commercial rates for those same sizes will essentially double that of residential.
Those who use more water will pay more based on a tiered rate system of 1-2,000 gallons, 2,001-5,000 gallons, 5,001-15,000 gallons and over 15,000 gallons. The volumetric rate will increase from $5.40 per 1,000 gallons to a range of $6.33$8.43. Residents averaging 6,200 gallons per month will see an increase of $11.14.
The tier system also applies to sewer use. The base rate will increase from $26.43 to $36.50 for sewer usage of 3,000 gallons. Usage in excess of 3,000 gallons will increase from $2.79 to $3.85 per 1,000 gallons.Average monthly users of 4,300 gallons of sewer will see an increase of $11.45.
Natural gas users’ base rate will increase from $11.89 to $14.52. Their volumetric rate will increase from $3.82 per MCF (1,000 cubic feet) to $4.66 per MCF. The average monthly user of 2.27 MCFs will see an increase of $4.54.
View council meetings at www.navasotatx.gov/government/ city_council/agendas___minutes.php.
Other council action
•Appointed council member Pattie Pederson to theArts Council of the Brazos Valley.
•Approved Change Order No. 1 for $1,000 for the Airport Hanger Utilities Extension Project. Project still $2,819 under budget.
•Approved appointment of Deborah Richardson, Brenda Williams, Ashley Falco Ver-Shurr, Dia Copeland and Jared Patout to the Charter Review Committee to revise the Navasota City Charter for the May 4, 2024, Charter Election.
•Approved request from Christian Community Services Center to increase their monthly utility credit to $200.
•Approved Consent Agenda items: Minutes and the Municipal Court Report for August 2023.
•Mayor Bert Miller read a Proclamation for National Day of Service and Remembrance of 911.
• Introduction of new/returning employees: Investigator Swank Backhus, Investigator Dan’Xavier Adam, Utility Technician Ricardo Sanchez, Library Clerk Lindsey Cox and Project Manager Edwin Sandoval.
• Recognized Permit Technician Hattie Wells for five years of service.
• Graduate Engineer John McKay gave progress reports on the Streets and Utilities CIP, Airport Utilities Extension Project, Fire Hydrant Replacement Project, Annual Street Maintenance Project and discussed replacement of the clarifier, the Hollister regulator and water leak in front of Arlan’s.
Gillian Meyer commented on the water rate increase saying the city water is undrinkable for herself and her animals.