League City City Council approves FY 2019-20 budget, discusses building regulations

The League City City Council on Aug. 27 adopted the fiscal year 2019-20 budget, which has undergone changes through several workshops over the past several weeks.

As of mid-August, the estimated property tax rate had dropped from $0.55 per $100 valuation to $0.5438 per $100 valuation. It rose again to $0.548581 per $100 valuation as of Aug. 27. The tax rate will be officially approved during the council’s Sept. 10 meeting.

The existing property tax rate is $0.5638. League City has seen steady property tax rate decreases over the last decade, according to city data. The tax rate in 2010 was $0.63 per $100 valuation.

The proposed FY 2019-20 operating budget is $140.16 million, and the proposed capital budget is $110.57 million for a total of $250.73 million. The FY 2018-19 budget is $212.21 million, which includes $132.88 million for operating expenses and $79.33 million for capital projects.

The city has budgeted to hire 21.25 full-time employees, which contributes to much of the operating budget’s growth over last year. The city wants to hire two full-time paramedics, a drainage engineer, two park maintenance workers and other roles.

Additionally, merit-based and cost-of-living pay increases and rising insurance costs contributed to the increased operational budget.

One of the biggest budget changes is a 39.38% increase in the capital budget. Much of the increase is due to $150 million worth of drainage and transportation projects the city will undertake over the next several years after voters in May overwhelmingly approved bonds for the work. League City will also soon start paying for infrastructure to secure more water from Houston as the city continues to grow, City Manager John Baumgartner said.

Voters also approved a sales tax rate increase of 0.25 percentage points to the maximum of 8.25%, which goes into effect Oct. 1. The city expects to collect an additional $3.4 million in sales tax revenue from the increase, and it will be used to offset costs for drainage and transportation projects, city officials said.

IN OTHER BUSINESS

The League City City Council on Aug. 27 also discussed a potential ordinance revision that would require homeowners associations and business owners associations be established in subdivisions as a way to control how the city would regulate building exteriors. The council voted to table the item to gather more information.

House Bill 2439, which goes into effect Sept. 1, restricts cities from regulating what materials the exteriors of residential and commercial buildings can be made of.

In response, League City staff recommended revising the city’s subdivisions ordinances. Under the revisions, new subdivisions with five or more lots would be required to establish a homeowners association, and non-residential subdivisions would be required to establish business owners associations.

Resident Dave Johnson said he saw a “red flag” with the idea of mandating building owners associations, which would add a layer of bureaucracy for developers. League City needs more commercial businesses, and business owners associations might deter some developers, he said.

Council Member Hank Dugie agreed.

“I appreciate the creativity, but I don’t like it,” he said of the revised ordinance.

David Hoover, director of planning and development, said the goal of the ordinance revision is not to add another layer of bureaucracy; it is merely a way for League City to maintain some control buildings’ appearances.

“If we don’t do anything, then we don’t have any control of what the exterior of the buildings will look like,” he said.

Council Member Greg Gripon said he lives in a subdivision with no homeowners association, and he and his neighbors love it. Many try to move into the subdivision specifically because it has no homeowners association.

Mayor Pat Hallisey said those in homeowners associations generally hate them.

Council Member Larry Millican said he lives in a subdivision of 10 lots that has a homeowners association. Costs related to the association are high, and they would likely be higher for five-lot subdivisions, he said.

“I don’t see an HOA of 10 homes being a viable situation in some places … especially when you get down to five lots,” Millican said.
By Jake Magee
Jake Magee has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper.

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