Drainage, parks a focus of Tomball's proposed 2019-20 budget

Tomball City Council members held two budget workshops in July discussing the upcoming 2019-20 fiscal year.

Tomball City Council members held two budget workshops in July discussing the upcoming 2019-20 fiscal year.

Nearly $900,000 is earmarked for drainage and park improvements in the city of Tomball’s proposed budget for fiscal year 2019-20, according to the city’s draft budget. 

Tomball City Council members held budget workshops July 1 and 15 to discuss the upcoming fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. Between all city funds—including funds for general operations, capital projects, utility fees, debt payments and city activities—revenue is proposed to total $48 million in FY 2019-20 with expenses totaling $51 million, according to the draft budget. 

Proposed revenue for the city’s FY 2019-20 general fund budget—funding the city’s daily operations—totals $23.2 million with proposed expenses totaling $23.9 million, according to the draft budget. This is a $506,000 increase in revenue and $702,000 increase in expenses from projections for the ongoing FY 2018-19, budget information shows. 

Despite the projected deficit—made up by the city’s reserves, or savings—the proposed general fund budget projects an additional $13.5 million—or 56% of the city’s annual operating expenses—to remain in reserves, City Manager Rob Hauck said July 1. The city’s charter requires 25% in reserves, he said.

Big-ticket items

The proposed budget allots $407,000 for drainage projects. This includes $200,000 to match funds received from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Community Development Block Grant program for Lizzie Lane and Persimmon Street improvements and $157,000 for drainage upgrades on Mulberry Street. 

“This is a drainage project to address the street flooding and ditch over capacity that exists down Mulberry Street. It’s been an issue for a number of years,” Hauck said July 15.

Funds also include $50,000 for drainage improvement planning, Public Works Director Beth Jones said July 15. 

“This would allow us to take a bigger picture look at [drainage],” Jones said. “Instead of just [adding ditches], take a look at [drainage] and how we can alleviate the problem in a wider fashion. Some of the areas might be Mulberry [Street] or Old Town.” 

The proposed budget also includes $467,000 for improvements at Juergens, Matheson, and Broussard parks as well as at Theis Attaway Nature Center and the Tomball Historic Depot Plaza, according to the draft budget. Big-ticket items include $200,000 for installing restrooms at Broussard Park—which is in development—and $100,000 for replacing outdated playground equipment at Matheson Park as the first of three project phases, Jones said.

“We had a firm come out and take a look at the [playground] conditions and give us an assessment of what they found out there, and there’s going to be a lot of pieces out there that we have to replace,” Assistant City Manager David Esquivel said July 15. “When we start doing that and then trying to piece together to where it all looks cohesive, it really was the recommendation that we replace the playground equipment with something new and updated … We are proposing to phase it in, because obviously it’s very expensive to do, especially with the size of the playground it is.” 

Jones said other park projects include:

  • $16,000 to resurface the Juergens Park pavilion;

  • $16,000 for maintenance of The Depot caboose;

  • $17,000 to resurface a concrete slab at The Depot;

  • $21,000 to replace fencing along the railroad tracks at the North Elm Street parking lot;

  • $22,000 to resurface Matheson Park tennis courts;

  • $25,000 to add dumpster enclosures at Juergen's Park and Wayne Stovall Sports Complex;

  • and $50,000 reserved for future improvements to the Theis Attaway Nature Center.

In addition to drainage and park projects, major spending items for FY 2019-20 include salary increases for city staff, upgraded technology, public safety equipment—such as an automatic license plate reader system and a Stalker Speed Awareness Monitor trailer to assist police department operations—new city vehicles and public works equipment, according to budget information. 

Council members will hold public hearings Aug. 5 and 19 on the proposed budget before casting two votes Aug. 19 and Sept. 3 on whether to adopt the budget, City Secretary Dorris Speer said during the July 15 workshop. 

Although the city's tax rate is not expected to be adopted until at least late August, proposed budget information shows no change in the property tax rate of $0.341455 per $100 valuation.
By Anna Lotz

Editor, Tomball/Magnolia & Conroe/Montgomery

Anna joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in May 2016 after graduating with a degree in journalism from Cedarville University in Cedarville, Ohio. In July 2017, she transitioned to editor for the Tomball/Magnolia edition. She began covering the communities of Conroe and Montgomery as well in 2020. Anna covers education, local government, transportation, business, real estate development and nonprofits in these communities. Prior to CI, Anna served as editor-in-chief of Cedars, interned with the National Journalism Center in Washington, D.C., and spent time writing for the Springfield News-Sun and Xenia Daily Gazette.