The Brenham City Council took a look at several tracts of land being considered for annexation at its meeting today (Thursday).
The council met in work session to discuss the areas under consideration. Back in May, the council passed a resolution directing the city manager to prepare service plans and review land tracts within the city’s service area for utilities.
The land being considered would expand the city’s boundaries by just over 27 percent. That percentage does not include properties that have requested annexation.
City Manager James Fisher said the land under consideration is located to the north, northeast, northwest, southeast, and southwest of current city limits.
Fisher said the city would start with that land initially. He noted, as TxDOT continues to look at its plans to improve the Highway 290 cloverleaf, the properties there could be impacted the greatest. He said the city wants to be involved in how future development occurs in that area.
Several tracts being considered are currently appraised with an agricultural exemption, which would require the city to offer those property owners development agreements. The agreement guarantees the continuation of extraterritorial jurisdiction (ETJ) status for a period not to pass 45 years. The city would offer these agreements with a time period of ten years.
Fisher said property owners will be able to talk with city officials about the annexation process in town hall sessions. He added, as the city prepares service plans, it can always opt out of the annexation process if it isn’t advantageous for the city.
Also in session, the council approved changes in the rate tariff schedule for the cost of water services. Last year, the city hired NewGen Strategies and Solutions, LLC to update the city’s water rate model and recommend water rate changes.
The company’s recommendation was a 4 percent increase to the water rate, which will bring the average monthly residential water bill—based on 5,000 consumption gallons—to $25.78, a 99 cent increase.
According to the 2019 Texas Municipal League Survey, the average bill for homes in cities with 15,000 to 20,000 people is $31.40.
The city had not increased its water rates since 2008. Assistant City Manager of Public Utilities Lowell Ogle said it’s “pretty good” the city made it 11 years without an increase. He noted that the city uses surface water, which he said is more expensive to pump and treat than groundwater.
The council also:
- Approved the creation of a municipal sales and use tax. Finance Director Carolyn Miller said re-imposing local sales and use taxes on residential electric and gas usage should generate an estimated $97,000 for the general fund, and $32,000 for the Brenham Community Development Corporation.
- Approved changes to the vehicles-for-hire section of city ordinance. These include recommendations to amend background check provisions for permit applications, permanently disqualifying anyone with felony convictions for violent offenses or felony DWI. In addition, staff recommended that charter (flat-rate) service is not covered by the ordinance, and that limousines, shuttles, and other vehicles not charging by distance traveled do not need a permit to operate in the city.
- Held work session on the possible adoption of the 2015 version of the international building codes with local amendments.
- Approved adoption of a tax phase-in agreement with Del Sol Food Company, Inc. The company has purchased the adjacent ADS building, and plans on converting it into their distribution center. It is looking to invest $7.7 million total into the project, which will add production areas in its current facility located in the Brenham Business Center. The estimated abatement totals $82,418, split between the city and Washington County.
- Approved the 2019-20 budget for the Washington County Appraisal District, and the retention of funds from 2017-18’s budget. The Appraisal District budget this year is $910,594, up $80,758 from last year’s budget. The council also approved the Appraisal District’s retention of $4,281 to use for the 2020 pictometry flight.
- Accepted a $664,176 bid from Lindsey Construction for the Higgins Branch Creek channel restoration.
- Approved the purchase of four transformers from Techline, Inc., through the Lower Colorado River Authority material program. The transformers are for Blue Bell Creameries’ milk bay relocation project, scheduled to begin this summer. The transformer purchase totals $151,925.