Sales tax revenues top expectations in Tomball

City officials in Tomball expect to bring in about $17.3 million in revenue for the 2012 fiscal year, which is $1 million more than projected in the 2012 budget. This additional revenue can be almost entirely attributed to increases in sales tax revenue, which accounts for about $8.5 million, roughly $750,000 more than projected, City Manager George Shackelford said.

"Sales tax has been good for us this year," he said. "We've only had a couple of months where it went down, and it's been very small and came back up the next month. In June, revenues went up 25.2 percent just for that month."

Expenditures for the 2012 fiscal year came in at $14.9 million, about $600,000 lower than budgeted, Shackelford said. Expenditures for the 2013 budget are set at $15.1 million, but could change as the city continues to workshop its budget. The proposed budget gives the city an end fund balance of $8.9 million, which is a healthy 58 percent of expenditures, Shackelford said.

Rates for property taxes, as well as water, sewer and gas, are all projected to remain the same. Waste Corporation of America is also not expected to look for an increase.

City officials have identified several improvement projects that may be included in the 2013–14 budget during a workshop session July 1.

Proposed projects include: sidewalk improvements from the 200–400 block on Main Street and gateway improvements at the Four Corners intersection, where Hwy. 249 crosses FM 2920. The city is also looking into the further development of a water well on Baker Street, potentially drilling a new well, and relocating utilities along Hwy. 249 in preparation for the incoming toll road.

"We know that's something the city is going to be responsible for," Shackelford said about the utility relocation. "We're setting up a meeting with [the Texas Department of Transportation] to see the ramifications of us doing it ourselves, ahead of the curve, versus allowing them to do it as a part of their contract."

Council members and Mayor Gretchen Fagan expressed interest in having both the Main Street sidewalk and Four Corners projects included in the budget.

City officials are looking into whether they should remove and replace sections of the sidewalk that are in poor condition, or redo the entire stretch—from Walnut Street to Pine Street—to match the improvements made from Elm to Walnut streets, with a brick accent. Shackelford said the sidewalk improvements would cost an estimated $300,000. The project would not require the removal of any trees.

"I think these are no-brainer improvements," Fagan said. "We've all heard comments from people about the appearance of Four Corners."

Other expenses in the budget include $9,565 for the installation of additional lighting at the Historic Tomball Depot Plaza, the hiring of a part-time fire inspector and a 3 percent salary adjustment for city personnel.

Shackelford was instructed by council to look more into the proposed improvement projects and come back to the next budget workshop with numbers factored into the budget. David Kauffman, director of public works, will also make a presentation on the city's options regarding the Baker Street water well. The next workshop is set for July 15 at Tomball City Hall, 401 Market St., at 5 p.m.

By Shawn Arrajj
Shawn Arrajj serves as the editor of the Cy-Fair edition of Community Impact Newspaper where he covers the Cy-Fair and Jersey Village communities. He mainly writes about development, transportation and issues in Harris County.