As Pearland City Council finalizes the fiscal year 2023-24 budget, new practices to ensure this year's tax worksheet is error-free were a top priority.

In a nutshell

On Sept. 11, Pearland City Council approved the first reading of its FY 2023-24 budget, which was styled as “Realigning for Resilience,” a name that alludes to its efforts to correct course after a tax worksheet error in FY 2022-23 set the city back $7 million.

The budget presentation included a breakdown of valuations for Harris, Fort Bend and Brazoria counties. The breakdowns showed a year-over-year increase in valuation for each county, a factor City Manager Trent Epperson said played a role in last year’s error.

“This was something that was missed in the valuation error last year,” Epperson said. “Breaking this down by county as opposed to looking at it as a single lump rate sum on the tax worksheet is important.”

The details

City Council approved the first reading of the tax rate of $0.6554 per $100 valuation, which marks a more than 6-cent decrease in the tax rate over the past four years.

The $114 million budget includes a 1% increase in expenditures over FY 2022-23. The increase includes market competitive raises for the city’s 907 employees, capital improvement projects and public safety programs, according to agenda documents.

The budget also proposes a 14% water rate increase, which would set the average household back an additional $12.40 per month, according to agenda documents. This increase is driven by public water infrastructure projects, such as the $175 million surface water treatment plant.

Those opposed

Council Member Alex Kamkar put forward a motion to cut $1.7 million from the budget because he said he felt residents were “feeling the pinch” of the budget increase.

“Families are feeling it. People trying to buy a house are feeling it,” Kamkar said before adding he felt cuts could be made to city wage increases and savings funds, such as the motor pool fund, which is set aside for future projects.

Other city officials, including Council Member Jeffrey Barry, spoke against Kamkar’s motion, voicing they felt it was irresponsible to decrease the amount of money the city sets aside for future expenses, even if they are many years down the road.

“The thing is, money costs a lot more in the future. So, if we’re not saving money right now, we’re going to have to pay for it later,” Barry said. “What you’re actually saying is, ‘I don’t mind paying more money later. I don’t mind going out to the citizens for the bond when, had I saved for the past five years, then we wouldn’t have a bond and interest to pay on that bond.’”

What’s next

Pearland City Council will vote on the second and final reading of the budget at its Sept. 25 meeting.