Lower property tax rates, city dog park: 5 things to know from Shenandoah’s FY 2017-18 budget workshop, Aug. 2-5

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During a three-day workshop from Aug. 2-5, the Shenandoah City Council discussed the proposed $8.8 million budget for fiscal year 2017-18, including lower property tax rates and funding several capital improvement projects.

Although no formal action has been taken on the proposed budget, the council will discuss the budget again at its regular meetings on Aug. 9 and Aug. 23. The council has until Sept. 1 to formally adopt the budget.

To view the entire proposed budget for FY 2017-18, click here.

1. The council will lower property tax rates.
Although the exact tax rate has not yet been approved, council agreed that the property tax rate for FY 2017-18 would not be more than 21.08 cents per $100 valuation.

The property tax rate in Shenandoah has consistently been either unchanged or lowered by the council every year since 2004. The property tax rate for FY 2016-17 was 22.95 cents per $100 valuation.

Mayor Ritch Wheeler said that the council could approve they FY 2017-18 property tax rate as early as Aug. 9.

2. The council approved funding for 19 out of 21 proposed Capital Improvement Projects.
Some of these approved projects include, but are not limited to, the following:

• $3,950 for a customized council table, which would allow all department heads to sit together during meetings
• $41,580 for video recordings of all city council meetings, which would allow the council to discontinue transcription services that cost $4,320
• $15,485 for a pool sun shade at the Mary Pat Case Municipal Pool
• Several items for the Shenandoah Police Department were partially funded including $5,385 for three in-car radars and $118,517 for five license plate readers. Handheld in-car radios were fully-funded for $115,900.
• $25,000 for a Tamina Road Traffic Planning Study recommended to the MDD.

The only proposed capital improvement projects council did not approve were the pool restroom HVAC, which would allow the restrooms at the Mary Pat Case Municipal Pool to be air-conditioned and an update to the city’s thoroughfare plan, which would update the plan for the first time since 2008.

3. The council determined water plant No. 4 would be funded through reserves.
Council will ask MDD to fund $350,000 of the $1.7 million project. If MDD does not fund the amount requested, council will go out to debt for the remaining amount.

The first payment on the water plant is due by the end of August.

4. The council will determine whether to budget for a Special Events Center feasibility study at a later date.
Council agreed to wait to take action on the special events center item until they received more information on the project from City Administrator Greg Smith, who was absent during the second and third day of the budget workshop.

Council had conflicting views about the project citing that if the project did come to fruition, the city’s hotels may not be able to support it.

Other concerns raised about the project included an increase in traffic congestion, an increased demand for law enforcement and eliminating the potential for other types of developments, such as retail or amenity, to be built in the proposed area.

5. The council will look into formalizing a Shenandoah Business Association, and the possibility of building a dog park and/or a community center.
The council will look into formalizing a Shenandoah Business Association, with the goal of helping local businesses attract more business and in turn, driving up the city’s sales tax. The association could potentially be funded by MDD and would formalize an initiative currently spearheaded by Shenandoah’s CVB and Communication Specialist.

The council will also direct the Parks Committee to look into the need and desire for a city dog park and a city community center. The dog park would include separate areas for small and large dogs and the community center would be an area for local clubs, such as the sewing club and the gardening club, to host their meetings.

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Hannah Zedaker
Born and raised in Cypress, Texas, Hannah Zedaker graduated from Sam Houston State University in 2016 with a bachelor's degree in mass communication and a minor in political science. She began as an intern with Community Impact Newspaper in 2015 and was hired upon graduation as a full-time reporter for The Woodlands edition in May 2016. She covers business, transportation, health care and other local news, specializing in Shenandoah City Council and Montgomery County nonprofit organizations.
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