Bellaire to undergo user fee study, cost allocation plan

Bellaire City Council has approved the scope of work for a user fee study and cost allocation plan that will help the city tighten its financials. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bellaire City Council has approved the scope of work for a user fee study and cost allocation plan that will help the city tighten its financials. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

Bellaire City Council has approved the scope of work for a user fee study and cost allocation plan that will help the city tighten its financials. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)

It will take about four months to complete, but the city of Bellaire will receive a user fee study and cost allocation plan as it looks to glean a clearer view of the city’s financials.

Bellaire City Council approved in a 5-1 vote on Nov. 2 to approve the study and plan, with Council Member Jim Hotze voting against. The fee study will focus on ensuring fees are set at the proper levels, while the cost allocation plan will focus on ensuring the annual overhead transfer from the city’s enterprise fund to the general fund is set at the proper level.

The council discussed and approved the idea in December 2019 about having the city undergo such a study, and on March 11, former City Manager Paul Hofmann signed a contract with Matrix Consulting Group after a request for proposals. The council next saw a proposal for the study Aug. 31 during a fiscal year 2020-21 budget workshop, when it requested the item return for discussion at a later date.

The total cost for the four-month study will be about $35,000—already included in the FY 2020-21 budget after it was carried over from FY 2019-20—and will come as a multipage report when completed.

The user fee study covers several areas, including a catalog of existing and potential fees for service, time estimates for each service provided, calculations of fully burdened hourly rates, and fee recommendations and implementation options.


Council Member Nathan Wesely expressed initial resistance against the city paying an outside firm for a study and cost allocation plan.

“We have a finance and accounting department that should be able to do 90% of this analysis, if not all of it,” he said.

The city’s finance director, Terrence Beaman, disagreed.

“A fee study is a very labor-intensive project,” Beaman said. “Even using a consultant it would take four months to complete such a study, and that’s with subject matter experts that would devote most of their time to this project. The Finance Department just doesn’t have the resources to maintain the day-to-day operations to work as efficiently as we prefer to and then to also create and document such a study.”

Wesley subsequently put forward a motion to approve the study and allocation plan despite having reservations.

Mayor Andrew Friedberg, who was part of the council in December 2019 that approved moving forward with the idea of a study, expressed support for the study, touting “a number of internal benefits” for the city.

“The reason most compelling to me of all is that it’s inherent in any municipal fee structure that anytime a service is not being completely paid for by user fees, that necessarily means the taxpayer—or the ratepayer as the case may be on the enterprise fund side—is subsidizing the rest,” Friedberg said.
By Hunter Marrow
Hunter Marrow came to Community Impact Newspaper in January 2020. Before that, Hunter covered local news in Ontario, OR for three years, covering municipal issues, crime, and education across Malheur County and across the border into Idaho.


MOST RECENT

key in door lock
Evictions continue in Houston as new measures aim to stem tide

Over 32,000 eviction cases were filed in Harris County courts in 2020.

Houston City Hall in rainbow lighting
Greater Houston LGBT Chamber of Commerce celebrates five years of service

The organization is open to all and serves members throughout the Greater Houston area.

The new Fort Bend Epicenter multipurpose facility could be used as a spot for trade shows and sporting events, could act as a large-scale shelter for county residents in an emergency and more. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Large multipurpose complex coming to Fort Bend County; Sugar Land to widen University Blvd. and more top Houston-area news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Houston area.

Snow covers I-45 in Houston during a winter storm that hit Texas the night of Feb. 14. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Legislators probe energy officials over power failures, lack of preparation heading into winter storm

The Texas Legislature held hearings Feb. 25 with energy companies including Oncor Electric Delivery and the Electric Reliability Council of Texas in response to last week’s historic winter storm, which left millions of Texans without electricity for days.

Keith Luechtefeld spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of the storm as well as some of the reasons why so many homes saw burst pipes during the freezing weather. (Community Impact staff)
Q&A: Greater Houston Builders Association President Keith Luechtefeld discusses power, plumbing, frozen pipes after Winter Storm Uri

Keith Luechtefeld spoke with Community Impact Newspaper about some of the short-term and long-term repercussions of the storm as well as some of the reasons why so many homes saw burst pipes during the freezing weather.

Antone’s Famous Po’ Boys will bring a new “H-Town Originals” sandwich to Houston in collaboration with Dr. Peter Hotez, chair of Tropical Pediatrics at Texas Children’s Hospital, co-director of Texas Children’s Center for Vaccine Development, and dean of the National School of Tropical Medicine at Baylor College of Medicine. (Courtesy Liana Bouchard/Legacy Restaurants)
Antone’s Po’ Boys to bring new Dr. Hotez sandwich to Houston

Antone’s Famous Po’ Boys will donate 50% of proceeds from the sales of the sandwich to support the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development.

Winter Storm Uri led to closures across the Greater Houston area during the third week of February. (Courtesy Metropolitan Transit Authority of Harris County)
‘It’s been a rough year for us’: Expert explains economic effects of winter storm, ongoing pandemic in Houston region

“It's been a rough year for us economically; it's been a rough year for us public health wise. It's just been a rough year for us psychologically—first the coronavirus and then the freeze," said Patrick Jankowski, senior vice president of research with the Greater Houston Partnership.

Rothko Chapel
Rothko Chapel marks 50 years with event series

Houston art patrons John and Dominique de Menil first revealed Rothko Chapel to the public over three days 50 years ago, Feb. 26-28, 1971.

The $560 million central processor, which is part of the new Mickey Leland International Terminal, will replace the parking garage for terminals D and E. (Courtesy Houston Airport System)
Parking garage at George Bush Intercontinental Airport to be demolished to make way for new Mickey Leland International Terminal

The international central processor, which is part of the new Mickey Leland International Terminal, will replace the parking garage for terminals D and E.

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic. (Courtesy Qygen, Wikimedia Commons)
Fry's Electronics calls it quits after nearly 36 years in business

As many as 31 stores across nine states will be shuttered as Fry's Electronics shuts down due to market changes and the pandemic.

A lone runner jogs on a snow-covered road in Austin. Transportation projects across the city were briefly paused due to Winter Storm Uri. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
ERCOT: Texas power system was less than 5 minutes from collapse during winter storm

ERCOT's CEO offered details into what led to the massive blackouts that left millions of Texans in the cold last week.