The Brenham City Council formally proposed a tax rate for adoption at its meeting today (Thursday).
The proposed rate of $0.4584 per $100 valuation is less than last year’s rate of $0.4737. The average home can still expect to pay more in taxes despite the proposed rate being lower, due to increased property values. The tax on the average homestead is slated to increase by 7.58 percent from $1,021 to $1,098.
Strategic Budget Officer Tim McRoberts said this year’s rate is lower on the M&O side and slightly higher for I&S. He said the rate will be driven down any time there are high property valuations.
The new rate consists of $0.3102 for maintenance and operations (M&O) and $0.1482 for interest and sinking (I&S). The rate is below the voter-approval rate of $0.4606, so no election is required. However, a public hearing is needed since the rate is above the no-new-revenue rate of $0.4445.
In June 2019, the city approved an ordinance to freeze property taxes for homeowners who are over 65 years old or disabled. There are 1,735 homestead accounts with a tax freeze, with a total appraised value of $377,574,320. McRoberts said these accounts represent a third of the city’s total homestead-eligible properties and nearly a fifth of all properties.
The council’s official adoption of the rate will come when it meets on September 7th and 21st.
Also at today’s meeting, the council approved an agreement with Brown Reynolds and Watford (BRW) Architects for the design of a second fire station, to be located at the intersection of James Nutt Boulevard and Handley Street. The facility is planned to be approximately 10,000 square feet in size and have three apparatus bays, living quarters for six personnel, an exercise room, training classroom and associated support spaces.
In June, the council authorized issuing $10 million in certificates of obligation to support building the new fire station. The funding will also be used for in-house street, sidewalk and drainage improvements. The agreement for BRW’s services will cost $584,600. The design phase is expected to take 30 weeks, followed by another four to eight weeks for the bidding process and 12 months for construction.
The council also held work session discussion on revisions to the city’s noise nuisance ordinance before approving the second reading to amend city code to institute new noise regulations.
Legal and Legislative Services Manager Karen Stack said after concerns were presented at the council’s meeting on June 15th, several solutions were developed. Businesses that are grandfathered for nonconforming uses will also be grandfathered under the noise ordinance. Exemptions will be made for noisy equipment that is required by state laws or regulations. In abutting zoning districts with different allowable noise levels, as long as the noise originator is within the noise limit of its designated zoning district at its property line, the originator is in compliance.
In other business, the council:
- Tabled revisions to the city’s zoning ordinance that were previously recommended by the Planning and Zoning Commission. The specific amendments include clarifying the definition of food truck sites to prohibit the storing of food trucks on residential property; changing R-1 single-family residential zoning to allow duplexes and twin homes with specific use permits; adjusting R-2 mixed residential zoning to allow accessory dwelling units and twin homes as permitted uses and including parameters for twin home and townhome developments; deleting information on noise regulations that duplicates or contradicts the noise nuisance ordinance; and removing provisions that allow conditions to be placed upon variance requests. The council discussed the amendments on food trucks and R-1 zoning at length before opting to bring the full item back at a future meeting after city staff performs more research.
- Approved the first reading of an ordinance to create a reinvestment zone requested by MIC Group, LLC for commercial tax phase-in incentive. The precision machining and electromechanical assembly manufacturing company wants to acquire additional manufacturing equipment in order to expand operations at its facility at 3140 South Blue Bell Road in Brenham. The equipment being purchased has a total capital investment of $6 million. The reinvestment zone is the first step in the abatement process.
- Approved agreements pertaining to employee benefits for the 2023-24 Fiscal Year, including medical, dental, vision, and life and long-term disability coverage. The agreements are with Aveis for voluntary vision coverage; Equitable for voluntary dental coverage and employer-sponsored basic life, accidental death and dismemberment, and long-term disability; United Healthcare for group medical coverage; Surency for the administration of flexible spending account/dependent care reimbursement, health savings account and COBRA; and Alliance Work Partners for an employee assistance program.
- Held executive session discussion to consult with the city attorney regarding Aviators Plus, LLC v. City of Brenham, Texas; cause no. 37896; 21st Judicial District Court, Washington County.