There were no citizen comments during the public hearing at the Sept. 9 city council meeting on the 2019-20 budget, but city staff and council members took the opportunity to review some of the increases in the $24.6 million budget and the challenges of providing some city services.
City Manager Brad Stafford told council members, “The major reason for such a drastic increase in our budget is $3 million in grant work that’s actually going on. The Cedar Creek Project added considerable amount of money. We have several new vehicles we have to purchase, some rather expensive ones – dump trucks, excavator.”
Stafford continued, “A point of interest is that the average home value in Navasota increased a little over 8% from last year. That’s a good sign. With the new construction, we’re bringing in new homes and some increases in value there.”
Finance Director Lance Hall said, “Ninety-four thousand was brought in from new property.”
Stafford said, “One of the real positives is the increase in natural gas sales.”
Stafford’s written report to city council included a breakdown of full and part-time staff, open positions and positions they hope to fill this next fiscal year. Shifting of staff within the Utility Department has allowed a position to be filled without adding to the payroll.
Reserves help with
Stafford continued, “A real positive for our city which will benefit us through the bond we talked about, is that for the last several years we’ve been placing $70,000 annually in the General Fund reserves and $70,000 on the Utility side. We’ve got $280,000 going in this year to reserves. That will really help as we begin to make payments on bonds and move forward with replacement of utilities and streets.”
Hall said the surplus from this year will address the equipment needs like a dump truck and backhoe.
Lack of lifeguards,
challenge for city pool
Mayor Bert Miller inquired about city swimming pool expenses and expressed his desire to see the pool open longer.
Stafford said, “The only reason we don’t is we don’t have employees. We can’t find lifeguards and when we do, they can’t stay. As soon as Diamonette, cheer, football and volleyball start, we lose all of our lifeguards – we lost all but two this year and that’s not enough to open the pool. That’s why we don’t stay open longer - we don’t have staff. We closed two weeks earlier this year because they left two weeks earlier this year.”
Hall said, “It’s not a budget issue.”
Council member Josh Fultz, Reservation and Guest Services Manager at Camp Allen, confirmed the difficulties in finding lifeguards.
Stafford said, “Brenham, Bryan and College Station have the same trouble. Nearly every pool has trouble finding staff.”
Stafford said, “We have a lot of vehicles to purchase because we held off two years.”
Those include police vehicles, an animal control truck, utility pickups, a fire truck chassis and booster truck, roll-off truck and dump truck. Also included is $45,000 for a mini excavator “that has been in the budget and stretched from the budget for about 15 years.”
The proposed budget is available for inspection through City Secretary Susie Homeyer at City Hall, 200 E. McAlpine Street.