League City City Council discusses five-year capital improvement plan during budget workshop

Budget season is underway, and the League City City Council and city staff are working to hammer out the details of the proposed fiscal year 2019-20 budget before it is approved in September.

Council spent the evening of July 30 going over details of the city’s annually updated five-year capital improvement plan, or CIP, which guides what and when capital projects are completed to improve and create League City’s infrastructure and amenities, said Angie Steelman, budget and project management director.

The total proposed CIP is budgeted at $498.3 million through fiscal year 2024. The FY 2019-20 portion is proposed at $110.85 million, Steelman said.

The FY 2018-19 portion of the CIP was budgeted at $76.7 million.

The proposed FY 2019-20 CIP includes 60 projects, including $17.31 million for continued reinvestment in sidewalks, traffic signals, roads and facilities; $12.31 million for street and traffic projects; $12.28 million for drainage projects; $11.38 million for 15 parks-related projects, including constructing an east side dog park; $3.36 million for downtown revitalization; $1.6 million for the remodeling of council chambers and other facilities projects; and $52.59 million for water- and wastewater-related projects, Steelman said.

Over the next several years, about $145 million in general obligation bonds will fund several traffic and drainage projects voters approved in May. Staff originally budgeted about $26.89 million in grants for drainage projects, but it is likely the city will receive only about $13.5 million in Community Development Block Grant disaster recovery funding, forcing the city to be strategic in how drainage projects are handled and take on the most crucial ones first, Steelman said.

“We’ll just have to look at prioritizing the projects,” she said.

City Manager John Baumgartner said the most important projects in the CIP are the traffic and drainage projects.

“[We’re] first focused on the stuff the voters talked about: the drainage and the roadways,” he said.

OPERATING BUDGET BREAKDOWN

The proposed operational budget for FY 2019-20, which begins Oct. 1, is $141.37 million—an increase of $8.49 million over the FY 2018-19 budget of $132.88 million.

The increase includes proposals to hire 21.25 full-time equivalent positions, including two paramedics, a flood plain administrator, a grant administrator, park maintenance workers and other positions; give employees cost-of-living pay raises and fund increased health insurance costs; continue reinvesting in streets, parks and public facilities; fund Helen Hall Library purchases; and more.

The proposed property tax rate, which will not be finalized until the end of August, is $0.55 per $100 valuation, a slight decrease from the existing tax rate of $0.5638 per $100 valuation. League City’s tax rate has either remained the same or decreased each year since 2010, according to city data.

Under the city’s homestead exemption, residents whose League City homes are their primary residences can be exempt from property taxes up to 20 percent of their homes’ values. This would effectively lower their property tax rate to $0.44 per $100 valuation, according to the preliminary budget.

League City expects this fiscal year to bring in $19.75 million in sales tax revenue, which is $400,000 less than budgeted for and 2% less than what the city collected in FY 2017-18. I-45 construction that removed the FM 646 bridge from March through July led to less sales tax revenue those months, according to the proposed budget.

The city has budgeted $20.47 million in sales tax revenue for FY 2019-20, which is about $723,000, or 3.7%, more than the city expects to collect this fiscal year. In 2010, League City collected just over $10 million in sales tax revenue, according to the budget.

League City voters in May overwhelmingly approved a sales tax increase of 0.25 cents per $1 to 8.25 cents per $1, the maximum allowed under state law. The additional revenue increase will fund drainage and road projects voters also approved.

The FY 2019-20 budget is based upon taxable appraised values totaling an estimated $8.84 billion, which is an increase of 9.7% from the existing budget over just over $8 billion. In 2010, League City’s taxable appraised values totaled a bit over $5 billion.

A public hearing for the budget will be held Aug. 13 at 6 p.m. in the council chambers, 200 W. Walker St., League City. A first reading of the budget will be held Aug. 27, and the second reading and adoption of the budget will occur Sept. 10, both at 6 p.m. in the council chambers.
By Jake Magee

Editor, Bay Area & Pearland/Friendswood

Jake has been a print journalist for several years, covering numerous beats including city government, education, business and more. Starting off at a daily newspaper in southern Wisconsin, Magee covered two small cities before being promoted to covering city government in the heart of newspaper's coverage area. He moved to Houston in mid-2018 to be the editor for and launch the Bay Area edition of Community Impact Newspaper. Today, he covers everything from aerospace to transportation to flood mitigation.