The cities of Tomball and Magnolia will begin their next budget year Oct. 1, and proposed budgets anticipate a bump in property tax revenues for the upcoming fiscal year, according to budget information.

Magnolia proposes a property tax rate of $0.4675 per $100 valuation, a slight decrease from the FY 2017-18 tax rate of $0.4709 per $100 valuation, City Administrator Paul Mendes said.

The city of Tomball has not proposed a tax rate for the upcoming year, as city officials are waiting on finalized taxable value projections from the Harris County Appraisal District. However, the proposed budget was prepared assuming no change from the FY 2017-18 tax rate of $0.341455 per $100 valuation, City Manager Rob Hauck said.

Operating expenses, revenues

After three years of little change in sales tax revenue, Tomball expects sales tax revenue to climb to $12.5 million this year, up from $10.85 million projected in the FY 2017-18 budget, according to city information.

“A greater revenue stream means the ability to do more things,” Hauck said.

In Tomball’s proposed budget, the city’s general fund—which funds the city’s daily operations—totals $20.9 million in overall revenue, while expenses top $23.9 million for FY 2018-19. Despite expenses exceeding revenue, the city’s fund reserve will end the year with $13 million, or 55 percent of the city’s annual operating expenses, according to the proposed budget.

Magnolia’s proposed general fund budget totals $2.97 million in overall revenue and $2.94 million in expenses for FY 2018-19, a decrease from the previous year’s budget, according to the city’s Aug. 16 preliminary budget.

“Council is always conservative,” Mendes said. “They’re tough on the spending, but they’re also very careful because they realize this is the taxpayers’ money.”

Notable items

The two cities are looking to add staff, improve infrastructure and purchase operations equipment this fiscal year.
Magnolia’s proposed budget includes pay increases for staff and its police department, the purchase of two new patrol vehicles for the police department and the purchase of public works equipment.

“We’re trying to pick up a little bit more [equipment] to where the public works department is more self-sufficient,” Mendes said.

In addition to improvements to the city’s wastewater system, parks and the Old Town area, Tomball’s proposed budget creates six full-time firefighter positions. The new full-time positions would replace about 20 part-time positions at the city’s two fire stations and allow teams of three full-time employees for all three shifts at the two fire stations, city officials said during budget workshops this summer.

Following public hearings, Tomball City Council is set to consider adopting the proposed budget Sept. 4. Magnolia City Council was slated to consider its budget Aug. 28 after press time.