League City City Council on Sept. 14 approved the budget, which includes cuts compared to what was originally proposed. The approved budget totals $250.03 million, which includes $163.18 million for operations and $86.85 million for capital projects. The proposed budget was $254.48 million and included $158.48 million for operations and $96 million for capital projects.
The FY 2021-22 budget as originally proposed included hiring 14 new positions and buying seven new vehicles for various departments. That was cut down to eight new positions—including two police officers, an emergency medical technician, a paramedic and a grant specialist, among others—and one new vehicle, which is for utility inspections, said Angie Steelman, League City budget and project management director.
The original budget included a firearms training facility study and a police academy needs assessment, both of which were also cut, city officials said.
Other budget cuts were made during workshops, including $6.96 million worth of revitalization projects along Main Street, the design of Bay Colony Park at $693,456 and the construction of kayak launches at $412,721. The cuts came as a result of City Council action.
Steelman explained the budget cuts do not mean the projects are no longer happening; instead, funding for these and other projects were delayed from fiscal year 2021-22 so funding better aligns with project timelines, she said.
The budget still includes several dozens of capital projects. The city will spend $15.02 million on reinvesting in streets, sidewalks and facilities; $12.41 million on new street projects, such as the North Landing Boulevard extension; $34.44 million on drainage projects; $420,000 on League City Fire Department upgrades; $1 million on generators for city facilities; $6.93 million on park upgrades; $2.22 million on downtown revitalization; and $14.4 million on water system upgrades.
New tax rate
On Aug. 10, staff recommended City Council set the maximum proposed property tax rate at $0.475526 per $100 valuation, which is the no-new-revenue rate, the rate at which the city would collect the same amount of property tax revenue as it did in FY 2020-21, not counting new properties. The FY 2020-21 property tax rate is $0.515.
However, council members suggested the rate be lowered further. They voted Sept. 14 to set the rate at $0.465526, which is $0.01 lower than the no-new-revenue rate.
By lowering the maximum property tax rate, general fund property tax revenue for FY 2021-22 was reduced by about $1 million, which resulted in some of the cuts, Steelman said.
“What happened tonight is an attempt to right the ship,” Mayor Pat Hallisey said in August when City Council set the maximum tax rate, adding the budget has grown significantly over the last six years and needed to be trimmed.
Additionally, the originally proposed budget included 116.3 days of reserve funds. That has since been reduced to 112.6 days, which is 2.6 days more than required by city policy and 22.6 more than required by state law, according to the release.
“I don’t agree with holding citizens’ money any more than we have to,” Council Member John Bowen said of the extra reserves.