By George Slaughter
Proposed revenues are $32.2 million, which is a $3.7 million, or 13% increase, from last year’s budget. Of this, officials expect that $10.8 million will come in property tax revenue, which is an estimated $1.7 million, or 19% increase, from last year.
The proposed property tax rate is $0.48 per $100 valuation, a decrease from last year’s $0.48672 per $100. There are more households paying property taxes as residential development continues in Cane Island, Falls at Green Meadows, Lilac Bend, the Reserves of Katy, and Young Ranch.
The proposed property tax rate will be $0.48 per $100 valuation, a decrease from last year’s $0.48672 per $100. There are more households paying property taxes as residential development continues in Cane Island, Falls at Green Meadows, Lilac Bend, the Reserves of Katy, and Young Ranch.
Ward A Council Member Frank Carroll offered a proposal that, if adopted, would provide a $350 property tax rebate to city homeowners whose homes were damaged by Hurricane Harvey in 2017. His proposal comes after reports of some local governmental entities not reassessing property values to reflect storm-caused damages. Carroll said the higher, or un-reassessed, taxes on storm-damaged property is hurting property owners.
“We need to help these folks,” Carroll said.
Ward A Council Member Janet Corte, whose home sustained flood damage from Harvey, said she thought issuing the rebate would be a “paperwork nightmare.” Corte said she thought it would be a better idea to use such money for a drainage project.
Mayor Bill Hastings asked Hebert whether such a rebate would be a budget-buster. Hebert said no. Hebert said 687 homes were damaged during the hurricane.
Using that figure, at $350 per household, means the figure would come out to $240,250.
Hastings said he didn’t oppose Carroll’s proposal, but added that city officials needed more information.
Property taxes are the second-largest source of the city’s revenues. Sales taxes are the largest source. However, officials expect a decrease in that figure. Officials estimate $13.3 million in sales tax revenue, a $1.1 million decrease from last year.
Hebert said the city expected more sales tax revenues last year, but it didn’t happen because of changing consumer trends that favor online purchases instead of in-store purchases. The reduced estimate for sales tax revenues reflects a caution on the part of city officials.
The city has been working to redevelop areas that would attract tourists, customers, and sales tax revenues. The redevelopment of the downtown square continues, with work expected to be complete by 2021. The Katy Rice Festival, which the city took over last year from the Katy Area Chamber of Commerce, is set for October 11-13.
The city has also worked with Simon, owner of Katy Mills Mall, for a major renovation of that mall. Part of the mall renovation includes a police substation, which has been effectively in operation, but not yet dedicated officially. This is a change from many malls that have closed nationwide.
“There are a lot of malls that are in the dark,” Hebert said.
Another major development the city has supported is the Katy Boardwalk Project, which is under construction across Kingsland Boulevard from the mall. The project includes a hotel, conference center, and parking facilities. City money will be used for the conference center and parking. The boardwalk is expected to open in 2021.
City revenues also come from services (budgeted for $2.5 million), grants, ($1.1 million), and licenses and permits ($1.1 million), and other sources.
The proposed budget provides for four new positions in the police department, four new positions in the fire department, two new inspectors in the permits and inspection department, and a city project manager.
The proposed budget also calls for a 3% cost-of-living increase for city employees. Last year’s budget included a similar increase.
“The staff here has worked very, very hard to make this work,” Hastings said. “It’s the best budget we could achieve. I’m happy with it.”
The council is expected to announce the public hearings scheduled for the budget at its next meeting, set for 6:30 p.m. Monday at City Hall. The budget, if passed, goes into effect October 1.
At Monday’s meeting, the council is expected to consider extending Hebert’s contract to serve as city administrator.