The Brenham City Council unanimously voted today (Thursday) to adopt a budget and property tax rate for the new fiscal year beginning October 1st.
The balanced budget lays out $89.5 million in expenditures. Strategic Budget Officer Tim McRoberts said the budget includes three new firefighters to be added mid-year, with six more planned over the next two budgets, to staff the fire department’s new station once it comes online.
Other items of note include one new police officer, six police car replacements, two new water/wastewater employees and cybersecurity enhancements.
McRoberts said the budget also accounts for water rate increases in October and January. He said the city is planning on a 5 percent increase in October but is still looking at how to implement the January increase.
The new budget raises an additional $629,495, or 6.7 percent, in property tax revenue in comparison to the previous budget. Of that amount, $210,319 is revenue from new property added to the tax roll.
Last year’s adopted budget was $91.8 million. McRoberts explained that this year’s operating funds are higher than a year ago, and that the reason for last year’s budget being larger was due to power and gas costs being much more volatile at the time.
The approved tax rate of $0.4584 per $100 valuation consists of $0.3102 for maintenance and operations and $0.1482 for interest and sinking. While it is lower than last year’s tax rate of $0.4737 per $100, it is still effectively a 3.1 percent increase in the rate due to higher property values and new property on the tax roll.
The no-new-revenue tax rate was set at $0.4445 per $100, while the voter-approval rate was $0.4606.
No comments were received from the public on either the budget or tax rate before their adoption.
Also at today’s meeting, the council unanimously approved a Chapter 380 agreement between the city and the new Academy Sports + Outdoors, providing sales tax reimbursement in the amount of $1.5 million split between the city, Washington County and Brenham Community Development Corporation.
Per the agreement, Academy’s annual share of sales tax revenue will be 80 percent throughout the term, which ends on December 2, 2033 or once the city has reimbursed $500,000, whichever comes first. Academy’s total capital investment in the project is $8.8 million.
The agreement was initially planned to be presented to the council for approval in June, but more time to review the plan was needed. The agreement stipulates that Academy would receive the reimbursement as long as the new location was operational by January 1, 2024.
In other business, the council:
- Moved to advance the city’s airport master plan for review by TxDOT’s Aviation Division and the Federal Aviation Administration. Following their approval, the plan will go back to the city council for formal adoption.
- Approved a resolution to repeal a prior resolution approving an interfund loan between the city’s sanitation and water funds to repay an advancing line of credit with Bank of Brenham for the raw water intake structure repair project. In July 2020, the city approved a $5 million promissory note with Bank of Brenham for an advancing line of credit for interim financing to pay for the project. With the advancing line of credit maturity date of July 1, 2021 and outstanding balance of $1,351,075, an interfund loan was approved by the city council in June 2021 to repay the bank. The interfund loan was for $1 million, with the remaining balance of $351,075 being paid for with water fund reserves. According to the agenda packet, city staff recommends the remaining $815,000 in principal balance of the loan be forgiven, given the immediate needs of water capacity expansion for the city and in order to reduce the impact that capital expenses from the expansion have on water rates.
- Approved a resolution repealing and rescinding previous resolutions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. In June, Governor Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 29, prohibiting local governments form implementing or enforcing COVID-preventative measures. The city issued a local disaster declaration in March 2020 consistent with Abbott’s, and the city council last renewed the declaration in September 2020 but never officially rescinded it.
- Approved two items previously recommended for approval by the Brenham Planning and Zoning Commission: a rezoning request for 307, 309 and 401 Peabody Street from B-2 Commercial, Research and Technology Use to B-1 Local Business/Residential Mixed Use; and a specific use permit for Powerfam Washes, LLC to build an automatic car wash on a vacant 2-acre tract of land on the east side of the Highway 105 – Sabine Street intersection, zoned for B-1 use.
- Met in executive session to consult with the city attorney regarding Aviators Plus v. City of Brenham; Cause No. 37896; 21st Judicial District Court, Washington County.