The council is expected to formally approve the change when it adopts the fiscal year 2020-21 budget Sept. 14.
The fleet replacement program follows a leasing model and includes vehicles from police, fire, development services, public works, and parks and recreation from both the general and enterprise funds, according to a report made to the council during the Aug. 10 combined budget public hearing and workshop.
The decision comes as Bellaire has proposed spending nearly $533,000 on not only 13 lease payments for vehicles, but also for one lease-purchase payment and three new purchases for vehicles and equipment in the proposed FY 2020-21 general fund. Meanwhile, in the enterprise fund, the city proposed spending almost $840,000 on a lease-payment and six vehicle and equipment purchases.
The city is proposing a FY 2020-21 budget with a general fund of $21.19 million in revenue, $21.33 million in expenditures and a $5.21 million beginning fund balance with an expected ending fund balance to hit $5.07 million, down from $5.32 million expected by the end of September. As proposed, Bellaire would end the next fiscal year with approximately $14.3 million in its total ending fund balance.
The proposed tax rate for the next fiscal year, meanwhile, remains unchanged, at $0.4473 per $100 of valued property.
City Council adopted the leasing model for fleet replacement June 18, 2018, according to budget meeting documents. The decision came as leasing was considered a way to minimize capital costs from Hurricane Harvey. City-owned vehicles receive maintenance and repairs at a cost to the city, while leased vehicles receive full maintenance and repairs.
Council Member Catherine Lewis agreed with the city’s recommendation to move to ownership.
“I think that is a really obvious conclusion,” she said.
As part of the transition during the next fiscal year, Bellaire would use existing fleet liaison staff, assign a fleet coordinator, invest in management software, use available fleet fund resources, and maintain those vehicles.
The council’s next budget workshop will be Aug. 17, with the potential for more should the need arise. The council will then adopt the budget Sept. 14 and adopt the tax rate Sept. 21.