The city also continued its trend of raising its property tax rate for the fourth year in a row as it plans for the future and attempts to ease its reliance on sales tax revenue. Humble City Council approved a property tax rate of $0.255944 per $100 valuation—an 8% increase over the FY 2018-19 tax rate of $0.245572, Humble City Manager Jason Stuebe said.
“That rate is still the third lowest in Harris County out of the 32 other municipalities in Harris County, so we’re still incredibly low from a property tax standpoint,” he said. “We’re going to continue, as allowable by law, to incrementally get that up to a more appropriate level to help fund our operation and maintenance.”
The 8% increase is the maximum allowable rate increase the city could make before going to voters for approval. The maximum allowable rate increase will be reduced to 4% in 2020 because of state Senate Bill 2, which limits increases without an election.
The general fund budget includes the purchase of seven traffic control vehicles and two detective vehicles for $435,103, as well as $3.65 million to expand Rankin Road from two to four lanes between the Union Pacific Corp. railroad tracks to Houston Avenue.
The budget also includes expenditures earmarked for numerous capital projects, such as $400,000 for a new training and storage facility for the police department, and $450,000 to relocate the Humble Museum from its existing building to the Charles Bender Performing Arts Center.
Overall, the city is about $4 million from a balanced general fund budget, with an estimated $31.11 million in general fund revenue but $35.25 million in expenditures, Stuebe said. The city will borrow from its reserves to cover the difference, he said.
The city has been borrowing monies from the reserves to pay for expenditures since FY 2015-16. However, Stuebe said this method is unsustainable, and he aims for the city to soon reach a point where revenue is covering expenditures by increasing property tax rates.
“My hope is, by next year, we will be able to have a truly balanced budget and may even have some stocked away,” he said. “That way we can start doing a capital projects plan and plan for our capital needs moving forward as opposed to dealing with it on a year-by-year basis.”