The big picture
The city’s strategic plan outlines five focus areas in fiscal years 2024-26—creating a city that is livable, connected, effective, safe and fun, according to the plan. The plan identifies specific goals, such as:
- Completing Phase 1 of a project to improve downtown alleys
- Completing a parks master plan
- Developing new festival, event or program ideas
Diving in deeper
The city’s strategic plan serves as Tomball’s guiding document for all of City Council’s major priorities and projects, such as updating several master plans and standardizing city street signs, Assistant City Manager Jessica Rogers said.
“This is a way for us to build the map of how we’re going to accomplish all of those things,” Rogers said. “I think it’s always great for the departments to have from an operational perspective because they know what’s important, but it’s also a good reminder to the council of what we’re working towards.”
In regard to capital improvements, Tomball has, for the most part, relied on cash funding, City Manager David Esquivel said.
“The difference now is we’re looking at all of the different capital projects and looking at it more as a rolling program so we can implement those instead of choosing one or two at a time because the needs become much greater, especially since we’re a growing community,” Esquivel said.
Esquivel also said by doing a capital improvement plan, or CIP, instead of calling for a bond election, increases to the city’s tax rate will be minimized because the debt issuances to fund projects will be spread out over several fiscal years.
Planned for fiscal year 2023-24 is $53 million in capital projects, such as:
- Creating an inclusive playground at Juergens Park
- Funding the Grand Parkway elevated storage tank as part of water infrastructure improvements
- Adding pickleball courts and a splash pad to Matheson Park
1. Complete Phase 1 of alley project: Make alleys more walkable, add a public restroom to downtown
- Cost: $1.88 million
- Timeline: September 2023-2024
- Cost: $850,000
- Timeline: late spring 2024-TBD
- Cost: $2.4 million
- Timeline: January 2023-early 2024
- Cost: $149,600
- Timeline: draft to be shared this fall
5. Work with the Texas Department of Transportation on FM 2920: Minimize medians, update sidewalks and crosswalks, replace trees
- Cost: $28.61 million
- Timeline: construction to start in 2027
- Cost: $450,000
- Timeline: Briefing with council Oct. 9
8. Update and maintain city’s website
9. Complete the 2023 utility rate study
10. Grow police department’s community relations division
11. Participate in annual census of homeless population
12. Enhance Wayne Stovall Park
13. Develop new festival, event or program ideasWhat they're saying
- “[The city is] building on a lot of the studies and the plans that have been done over the past year to get us to a point of being able to implement it," said Kelly Violette, executive director, Tomball Economic Development Corp.
- “We are very conscious about [the tax rate]. We’re trying to manage that where it’s we’re all in this together, that it’s not going to cost any one person any more than anyone else," Tomball Mayor Lori Klein Quinn said.
- “It’s a lot of money. But I think I’m getting my head around the fact that we’re spreading [capital improvements] out over five years or more, which is helpful," City Council member John Ford said.
- “We cannot stop growth. ... But what we can do is try to manage the growth ... by determining which projects that we move forward with, what areas that we concentrate on," City Council member Mark Stoll said.
The city is moving forward with a multiyear CIP because of the tax and utility rate implications, Esquivel said. Tomball’s property tax rate for FY 2022-23 is $0.287248 per $100 valuation, according to the city’s website.
For FY 2023-24, council proposed a property tax rate of $0.29332 per $100 valuation Sept. 18.
Esquivel said by doing a capital improvement plan, the debt issuances are broken down over a period of time, subsequently spreading out the impact to the tax rate.
In FY 2023-24, the city is proposing $28 million in certificates of obligation—a way to borrow money—to help pay for part of the $53 million in outlined capital projects, according to an Aug. 21 presentation to council.