Budget shortfall anticipated in Jersey Village; city not planning to cut staff

The city of Jersey Village could see a shortfall of $700,000 in sales tax revenue, but officials said they are prepared to take the hit. (Staff photo)
The city of Jersey Village could see a shortfall of $700,000 in sales tax revenue, but officials said they are prepared to take the hit. (Staff photo)

The city of Jersey Village could see a shortfall of $700,000 in sales tax revenue, but officials said they are prepared to take the hit. (Staff photo)

Officials with the city of Jersey Village are expecting a budget shortfall this year because of the coronavirus, but City Manager Austin Bleess said April 20 that he is not planning to make any staffing cuts at this point in time.

Bleess discussed the city's financial situation at an April 20 Jersey Village City Council meeting in which council members and city staff participated from their houses using Zoom.

Bleess said the budget shortfall is tied to an anticipated decrease in sales tax revenue and could be in the ballpark of $700,000.

"We are anticipating, just for planning purposes, a $700,000 shortfall in sales tax, and we’re prepared for that," Bleess said at the April 20 meeting. "I don’t foresee any major needs to cut staff. I don’t believe that’s what we need to do right now."

Sales tax revenue for fiscal year 2019-20 was projected at around $5.7 million when the budget was adopted in September 2019—about 34% of the city's overall general fund revenue.

Because sales tax revenues are distributed to cities two months after they are collected by the state, Bleess said he will not know the exact figures for the month of March until May. Likewise, sales tax revenue from April will be distributed in June, he said.

Bleess said the city has conducted webinars with local business owners to try to get a good idea of how they are doing.

Based on his conversations with business owners, Bleess said restaurants were hit hard in March, but general merchandise stores, such as Sam's Club, may provide an increase in sales tax revenue.

In preparation for the expected shortfall, Bleess said the city has stopped filling open positions and is looking at what delays need to be made to capital improvement projects. By not filling open positions, Bleess said the city should be able to cut its expenses by $700,000-$800,000.

The city has about five months' of reserves, Bleess said.

"I feel like we’re in a better position than a number of places to weather this storm, however long it lasts," Bleess said. "Right now, that is kind of the question nobody has an answer to: 'How long is it going to last?'"

Details on which capital projects will be delayed, if any, are to be determined, Bleess said. Capital projects include the construction of a new City Hall building and the development of a convention center-clubhouse concept at the Jersey Meadow Golf Course.

Bleess said he has also been meeting with department heads over the past three weeks to keep an eye on budgets. City staff will meet next week to have preliminary discussions about the FY 2020-21 budget, and council will have its first budget session in May.

"We are going to be very cognitive of the fact that revenues will be down, and we’ll be planning accordingly," Bleess said.
By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.


electric grid
ERCOT board developing new emergency response measures, managing financial fallout from winter storm

An emergency meeting of an ERCOT advisory committee made up of independent advisers was convened March 5 after the resignations of several board and of ERCOT CEO Bill Magness. 

Jersey Village residents who experienced pipe leaks during Winter Storm Uri in February will have their water bills preemptively adjusted to amounts representing their average water use. (Courtesy Pexels)
Jersey Village to preemptively adjust water bills for residents who experienced leaks during storm

Certain residents with higher-than-average water bills will have their bills automatically adjusted to reflect average use.

Cars wait their turn for a vaccine dose at the Texas Motor Speedway on Feb. 2. The hub was hosted by Denton County Public Health. (Sandra Sadek/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Texas doctor discusses first 3 months of vaccine distribution process

Texas is in its 12th week of statewide vaccine distribution, and an expansion of eligibility for vaccination could come later this spring.

The Traders Village Auto Swap meet will take place March 13-14 this year, featuring hundreds of vendors offering car parts and accessories. (Courtesy Traders Village)
15 in-person and virtual events for Cy-Fair residents to check out in March

Cy-Fair residents can attend a number of events in March that take place both in-person and virtually.

An health care worker with the Baylor College of Medicine holds up a Moderna vaccine. (Courtesy Baylor College of Medicine)
Access, education in focus as more vaccines hit Houston area

As a new mass vaccination site has launched and the state opens vaccines start being provided to school and child care workers, experts say education and access have become increasingly important.

For a third consecutive semester, Texas public school districts will not be penalized financially due to declining enrollment and attendance as a result of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, due to an extension of the hold-harmless guarantee, state leaders announced March 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Texas leaders ensure financial stability for public school districts through spring semester with hold-harmless extension

The guarantee also ensures that Texas school systems can retain their teachers for the 2020-21 school year for whom they originally budgeted.

COVID-19 pandemic exacerbates Cy-Fair ISD learning gaps for at-risk, remote learners

Groups that were already considered at risk—including students of color and those from low-income families—continue to lag behind their white and more affluent peers while students navigate new challenges in a pandemic.

The new store is the fifth location for the local kolache shop. (Courtesy Karma Kolache)
Karma Kolache celebrates opening of new location on Cypresswood Drive

The new store is the fifth location for the local kolache shop.

13 food trucks to visit in Cy-Fair this spring

Cy-Fair residents can find tacos, barbecue, desserts and more at local food trucks in the area.