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Personnel, salaries City workshop considerations

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In workshop mode at the March 28 Navasota City Council Meeting, City Manager Jason Weeks presented a list of six key priorities for council feedback before he, staff and Finance Director Lance Hall begin developing the 2022-2023 budget. Most items were prompted by growth and increased workloads.

Hiring, retaining personnel Weeks’ list

Topping Weeks’ list was hiring additional police, fire, public works personnel and a second city inspector. This was followed by the need for a compensation study and funding to “retain highly qualified employees” and stop the “revolving door.”

Next on the list was a dedicated Parks & Recreation position and funding to provide amenities and activities.

Weeks commended newly hired Marketing & Communications Coordinator Bobbie Ullrich for her work thus far but said other needs to consider are a website redesign, marketing promotional items, wayfinding and downtown signage and more downtown events.

Also making the list was investing in cybersecurity.

Under Capital Projects and planning for growth, were a new fire station, more downtown parking, a water tower and treatment plant on Navasota’s east side, additional water wells, park improvements and a new library roof.

Other suggestions included quarters for EMS in the new fire station and that design efforts be initiated for the “flyover” at SH 105 and SH 6 and the grade separation over the railroad tracks.

The elephant in the room

Weeks then asked council to consider having the “elephant in the room” discussion about funding before the budget process begins.

He asked, “Are you comfortable with the tax rate? Do you want to see a tax decrease? Do you want to see a tax increase? Do you want to see ways the City could implement impact fees? Are we charging water, sewer and gas rates sufficient charges to pay for our operations as well as for future capital projects?” He continued, “To buy all these things, we need to address some of these elephant in the room questions — where’s council’s thinking on the areas of revenue?”

Council responds

Mayor Bert Miller agreed with the need for a compensation and utility rate study, way-finding signage and Park & Rec activities. He suggested funding the design for a fire station.

Councilman Bernie Gessner favored continuing with the same tax rate and utilizing the revenue from increased property values and sales tax as well as hiring additional staff. His priority is the grade separation and thought impact fees on new development should be explored.

Councilman Josh Fultz was opposed to a tax increase but did support additional personnel and doing something about a new fire station. He thought current parking is sufficient

Council member Patti Pederson focused on the need for additional parking but bad concerns that the grade separation would divert traffic from downtown.

Weeks anticipated he and Hall will be bringing something to council by June.

View city council meetings in their entirety at www.navasotaix.gov/city-council/pages/meeting-videos.