The city of Bellaire adopted its fiscal year 2022-23 budget Sept. 19 with added spending directed toward full- and part-time employees.

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, Bellaire experienced a large number of vacancies in city jobs and in May amended the FY 2021-22 budget adding a 3.5% step increase for all eligible employees.

A step increase is a budgetary plan designed to show the incremental increase in wages a city employee can make.

“[Bellaire] has a 12-step plan ... you have a starting range and then usually at six months an employee would be eligible for a step increase,” Bellaire Human Resources Manager Lori Remington said.

As of Sept. 20, there are 28 full-time job openings of 187 total positions in Bellaire.

City Council, as a means of addressing the persisting issue, amended the FY 2022-23 budget to include:

  • a change in the 4% cost of living adjustment, or COLA, to a 3.5% step increase and a 1.5% COLA;

  • increasing the COLA to 2.5%; and

  • increasing the minimum hourly rate to $15 an hour.

“There are lots of reasons why people leave, and I don’t mean to oversimplify and say, ‘Throw money at it, and maybe people won’t leave,’” Bellaire Mayor Andrew Friedberg said. “But maybe the support from council encourages people who might be leaving to second guess.”

Also of note during the Sept. 19 meeting, the city retained approximately $479,000 in excess revenue to be allocated following direction from council, and the voter approval tax rate was lowered from $0.4639 per $100 valuation to $0.4554. The city's property tax rate went unchanged at $0.4473.

The budget will take effect Oct. 1.