The Conroe City Council unanimously approved its fiscal year 2018-19 operating and capital improvement budgets at the Thursday, Aug. 23 regular meeting.

Along with approving the budget, the city adjusted certain tax rates in a split vote, increasing the garbage, recycling, water and sewer rates.

City of Conroe Chief Financial Officer Steve Williams said four of the five largest funds are already exceeding the 83.3 percent benchmark—and indicator set because August is 83.3 percent of the way through the year. Property tax revenue collected by the city is expected to increase for FY 2018-19 and is already on track to be above estimates, he said.

“Property taxes show month by month we are going to end up a little bit ahead,” Williams said. “That just means more people paid their property taxes—we budget in a variance for delinquent pay.”

Williams said the general fund has already collected 100 percent of property taxes for this year’s estimate. As for sales tax, 92.9 percent of the goal, or $3.1 million, has been collected—6.9 percent above the same period last year.

The City Council in a 4-1 vote approved a 4 percent increase in water rates and a 15 percent increase in sewer rates. This is intended to fund operations and maintenance expenses as well as capital debt service for the water and sewer facilities, which were damaged by Hurricane Harvey.

The council also approved, in a 4-1 vote, an increase of 1.9 percent in garbage and recycling rates, which is within the Waste Management terms of agreement. The increase would show up as a charge of $15.90 per month for an average residential customer, up 30 cents from the current average charge of $15.60.

However, the council did not raise the property tax rate. They had entertained the idea during budget sessions in order to fund fire department needs, which were changed to a slower phase-in.

“Our tax rate continues to be 0.4175 [per $100 assessed value], so good job everybody for hitting that goal for our citizens,” said Council Member Duke Coon.

In other news Thursday, the council:

  • Unanimously approved the purchase of new, permanent downtown LED lights for holidays, a purchase which is expected to pay for itself within four years by reducing the labor of putting up and taking down lights each season.

  • Unanimously approved $98.3 million for design and construction of a new water treatment facility and updates to the current water and sewer facilities.

  • Unanimously approved furthering an agreement with the FBI to continue sharing the firearms training facility for another 14 years in exchange for $2 million in assistance repairing and reconstructing the facility after damage from Hurricane Harvey.