By George Slaughter
The Katy City Council Monday night adopted a $28.5 million budget for 2018-19, and kept the tax rate to fund it the same as last year’s rate.
The budget is an 8.5 percent increase from the 2017 budget of $26.1 million. It includes a three percent cost-of-living increase for city employees. City officials have said that the competition between cities is intense for qualified employees, particularly police officers and firefighters.
The budget calls for the hiring of seven police officers, three firefighters, and one fire investigator, among 19 new total positions to be filled.
The budget also calls for a new ambulance and four new police vehicles. The second city fire station, at 25420 Bell Patima Dr., is under construction and is expected to open in December.
Medical insurance would have only a minimal increase.
The property tax rate will remain $0.48672 per $100.
The city has reduced taxes over each of the past five years, but did not do so this year. After the 2016 Tax Day Flood and Hurricane Harvey, officials had to dip into the city’s financial reserves to begin and make needed repairs around the city.
At a city budget workshop last month, City Administrator Byron Hebert said the city was not in a position to lower the rate this year. He said the extra money will be put back into reserves.
The city has more tax revenue to work with thanks to increases both in general sales tax revenue and property taxes from new homes in Katy.
The city expects an approximately $1 million increase in general sales tax revenue. This revenue comes thanks to additional anchor stores at the Katy Mills Mall and Kroger Marketplace, along with the new Amazon distribution center and Buc-ee’s.
The city has sought more commercial development to increase sales tax revenue, which is expected to increase from $8.8 million in the last budget cycle to $10 million in this budget. The new Amazon distribution center, the new Buc-ee’s, new stores at Katy Mills Mall, and key tenants at the West 10 Business Park are helping fuel that growth.
Meanwhile, residential construction has grown in Avalon at Spring Green, Cane Island, Enclave at Katy, Falls at Green Meadows, Lilac Bend, Reserves of Katy, and Young Ranch.
The budget goes into effect October 1.
In other action Monday, the council:
- Approved the Diva Du 5K Duathlon, set for February 2, 2019.
- Approved a final plat for Tarragon Reserve in Fort Bend County.
- Approved a final plat for Gibbs-Petty Estates in Harris County.
- Accepted drainage, paving, sanitary sewer, and water improvements for the Falls at Green Meadows subdivision.
- Adopted a resolution designating Mayor Chuck Brawner is the representative and Ward A Council Member Janet Corte as the alternate to the Houston-Galveston Area Council 2019 General Assembly.
- Adopted a resolution authorizing Brawner to sign a professional services agreement with Invoke, LLC to implement citywide Microsoft upgrades.
- Adopted a resolution authorizing Brawner to petition the City of Houston for the release of two properties from Houston’s extraterritorial jurisdiction to the City of Katy. The petition is in support of the property owner’s request that Houston release the properties. The properties are 1500 FM 1463 and 1610 FM 1463.
- Passed an ordinance to add job descriptions for senior administrative assistant, fire inspector/investigator, GIS specialist, records clerk, records specialist, customer services representative, and senior and IT manager. The ordinance also amended job descriptions for wastewater utility technician, lead and senior wastewater utility technician.
- Passed an ordinance to amend pay ranges, the wage-hour exemption schedule, and bi-weekly pay schedule to replace the semi-monthly pay schedule.
- Passed an ordinance to amend the city’s certification pay policy for municipal count court employees.