The Brenham City Council officially proposed a new tax rate of 50.4 cents per $100 valuation for the new fiscal year at its meeting today (Thursday).
The council voted unanimously to propose the new rate, which is one cent cheaper than the city’s tax rate a year ago. The rate is made up of 32 cents for maintenance and operations—the same as last year—and 18.4 cents for debt service, one cent less than a year ago. As the proposed rate does not exceed either the no-new-revenue tax rate or the voter-approval tax rate, a public hearing is not required.
With this proposed rate, the tax on the average homestead in Brenham will actually decrease from $904 to $897, despite an increase in the average homestead taxable value in the city. City Manager James Fisher said the level of change on residents’ tax bills will vary, but the city felt a conservative approach to the tax rate was necessary.
Formal adoption of the tax rate will not come until the council’s meetings on September 3rd and September 17th.
Also at today’s meeting, the council unanimously approved an ordinance on its first reading providing for no parking zones in certain areas along West Second Street, West Fifth Street, Green Street, and High Street. Blinn College has reached out to the city to ask about establishing no parking areas on portions of these roadways—which all front College property—in order to help keep students dedicated to specific parking lots.
Fisher said the city should consider revisiting this item once the College completes its new academic and residential buildings, as he does not want these no-parking zones to inadvertently push students into parking in front of homes.
During Fisher’s COVID-19 update to the council, he stated that starting Monday, Brenham City Hall will reopen to the public with operating hours of 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. He hopes that City Hall can go back to a regular 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. schedule by September.
Also during session, the council:
- Met in executive session to speak with the city attorney regarding pending litigation: T. Hyde v. Washington County Sheriff’s Office and Brenham Police Department. No action was taken.
- Awarded a Request for Proposals (RFP) to ZochNet for the lease of telecommunications space on city-owned water towers. Per the license agreement, ZochNet will pay the city $200 per month for the exclusive right to install and maintain equipment on the city’s elevated storage tanks on Jefferies Street and Church Street. In addition, ZochNet will provide in-kind services for the term of the five-year license for a total annual investment of $17,284. Services include the installation of a high-speed Wi-Fi hotspot in the downtown Brenham area, 12 high-speed connections at the city’s outdoor recreation areas such as parks and sports fields, and three more high-speed connections at locations to be determined by the city in the future. The company will also provide certified climbers to the city as needed for minor repairs and maintenance work associated with both storage tanks. Assistant City Manager of Public Services and Utilities Donald Reese said people do not have to be ZochNet customers to utilize the new Wi-Fi connections.
- Approved the termination of a contract between the city and Southern Flyer, Inc. for Fixed Base Operator (FBO) services at the Brenham Municipal Airport. Southern Flyer sent notice to the city in June detailing its desire to cease being an FBO at the airport, after signing the original FBO contract in 2000. The cancellation agreement reads that the termination between the two is mutual. The termination is effective August 31st.
- Approved the purchase and installation of Precision Approach Path Indicator (PAPI) lights at the Brenham Municipal Airport. The city was approved for $69,000 in CARES Act funding for the project, which is estimated to cost $69,450.
- Approved a professional services agreement between the city and Strand Associates, Inc. for engineering services related to the Atlow elevated storage tank rehabilitation project, in the amount of $59,100.
- Awarded a Request for Proposals (RFP) to Strand Associates, Inc. for engineering/architectural/surveying services for the Community Development Block Grant Disaster Recovery Mitigation (CDBG-MIT) projects. A public hearing to discuss what city projects are eligible for the program will be held on Thursday, August 13th at 5:30 p.m. at Brenham City Hall.
- Held public hearing and approved the rezoning of approximately 5.08 acres of vacant property at 1303 and 1305 Prairie Lea Street from industrial use to commercial research and technology use.