- Presentation by City Manager at the August 15, 2022, Council meeting
- Video of the August 15, 2022, Budget Public Hearing and Council meeting here
- Find video of the August 16, 2022, Budget Workshop #3 here – discussion of the 8/15/2022 presentation listed above from. More Budget Workshops are planned.
- Workshop #4 August 23, 2022
- Workshop #5 August 29, 2022
7/15/2022 – After a review of the 232 pages of the proposed FY2023 budget I was unable to find estimates for anticipated revenues. Although there are totals for each sector of the City government, no grand total for the proposed expenditures is provided. It’s clear that some of these items will change, but wouldn’t it be helpful to see some estimated totals?
Find an example of consolidated revenue and expenditures for 2022 here. Will there be $40 million available, or $60 million? More? Below is an example from page 3 of the proposed Budget for just the property tax revenue:
This budget will raise more revenue from property taxes than last year’s budget by an amount of $_______, which is a _____ percent increase from last year’s budget. The property tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year is $________.
Update on Estimated Revenues
Anticpated revenues of around $45 million are listed for General Fund, Enterprise Fund, and Special Revenue Fund (pgs 192 to 194), As of 8/20/22, see the UPDATE at left (Q#35). No breakdown for revenues or expenditures is included.
Proposed debt service FY2023 on page 129 of the budget is $9.6 million, but I could find no estimated outstanding debt as of 9/30/2022. The debt is over $100 million. Find the Debt report as of 9/30/2021 here.
Q & A Included In The Budget Workshops
Find five rounds of responses to Council’s questions regarding the proposed budget. Everything from a half-million dollar air-conditioned animal shelter (Q#2) to problems balancing the budget in a few years (Q#15 and Q#25) to a world-class ADA park (Q#21). Click on the page at left to view the entire document,
The budget includes annual operating costs for the various City Departments, the annual debt service, and includes a 5-year list of proposed Capital Improvements, the CIP.
Currently a 1.5% cost of living increase is proposed for all employees and 3.5% merit based step increase for all eligible employees. The City currently has 5 employees earning $15.00 or less per hour. The cost to move each employee within their current pay range to the step that is $15 or more is $12,744. This is an annual cost calculation.
Find an example of overhead costs on salaies in the table above. reflecting a wage of $17 per hour. Per this table the overhead on base salaries for lower paid staff runs about 50%. It would be interesting to compare the OH costs of our higher salaried employees.
A Balanced Budget?
Q#15 questions the possibility that the City budget will not be structurally balanced in a few years. “Structural balance has two components: (1) recurring revenues, and (2) recurring expenditures. Projected structural imbalance can be addressed through increased recurring revenues, decreased recurring expenditures, or a combination of increased recurring revenues and decreased recurring expenditures.” Higher fees, higher taxes, or budget cuts? Let’s hope the various revenue streams continue to increase.
Q#9 regarding revenue from assessed values, the response is about 1.67% is estimated to be attributed to new properties.
Q#13 suggests that a conservative estimate of next year’s property value increase is 3%.
Back to the new dog pound, another question concerns the number of pit bulls collected in the past year (23, only 4 returned to owners) and the problems of finding homes for unclaimed animals (Q#16). Is Bellaire prepared to run some sort of animal rescue shelter for unclaimed animals when no alternative housing is available? What are the estimated annual costs for operations, staff, etc.
Possible Capital Improvement Projects
Also on the CIP list are new Public Works facilities for $547,000. Public Works has been housed in a temporary building on Edith St since the demolition of the office facilities after repeated flooding.
Over $600,000 is listed for the purchase and lease of vehicles. Does the City intend to return to the old tenet of purchasing vehicles, no more leasing once the lease contracts run out? Hopefully the answer is a strong Yes!
The Fire Department is requesting a backup chiller at a cost of $260,000 in case the main one goes down. The chiller is needed to protect a number of systems in the Fire Department and the Emergency Operations Center plus the City-wide computer system from overheating.
Millions of dollars are allotted for streets, drainage, and flood mitigation. The remaining $6 million in 2016 bond funds is proposed for use for some of the projects, it’s up to Council to find the rest. Usually through a bond referendum, and the City continues to apply for various grants.
The entire list of Capital Improvement Projects over the next 5 years totals $77,234,205, with highest priority first rated 1 to 5. Find the full list 2023-2027 here.
Where Do We Stand On Flood Mitigation?
Q#17 relates to DR2202 on the CIP list, the Bellaire Master Drainage Concept Plan. TX-DOT plans and increased cost. (Q17a). No firm answers were provided. Currently the total cost for DR2022 over 5 years is estimated at $15 million. How might this plan be affected by the recent Harris County Flood Control discussion of tunnels under the waterways and bayous?
Q#20 queries the number of flock cameras in the City and plans to purchase more. The department operates 20 Flock Safety ALPR license plate reader cameras within the city and is deploying 6 more.
Q#21 includes a question regarding PA2304 on the CIP list, Evergreen Park improvements. The total over 5 years is $6,049,500. and lists this item as a grant-related project.
Separate accounts for each park are not included in our accounting system. Everything runs through one account (Q#29). Consider the enormous differences between our small pocket parks and Evelyn’s Park, Loftin Park, Nature Discovery Center or Evergreen Park. Shouldn’t residents have some idea of the costs for these high-maintenance parks?
PA2304 has been revised to read: “A total of $349,500 is proposed for PA2304-Evergreen Park in FY23. This includes a $160,000 donation that has been pledged by the Patrons for Bellaire Parks and $189,500 from the General Fund. Please note the $189,500 from the General Fund is associated with a restricted account established by Ordinance 11-10 whereby right-of-way sale are designated for development of parks. The FY23 funding for PA2304 is programmed to replace the existing Evergreen Park with a new, more inclusive playground for people of all abilities.”
Recently our Congresswoman, Lizzie Fletcher, has included a $600,000 proposal in her Community Funded Project Requests to build an inclusive, world-class playground that goes beyond ADA requirements in Evergreen Park. Certification Letter
Find a more detailed FY2023 CIP with charts and explanations here: Proposed FY2023 Capital Budget-In Brief
Please email concerns or questions to the Mayor and members of City Council via our City Clerk, Tracy Dutton, at email@example.com. Let Council know what you think.