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City Council increases budgeted expenses, $144 million

By Melissa Crowe
Sept. 4, 2012 at 4:04 a.m.
Updated Sept. 5, 2012 at 4:05 a.m.


MORE ACTION

Approved an ordinance requiring more in-depth background checks for drivers of taxicabs, limos, touring vehicles and animal drawn touring vehicles, and ambulances;

Approved an ordinance affecting solicitors, outdoor sales, sexually oriented businesses and pool halls;

Approved a $201,500 budget transfer for repairs to the landfill gas extraction system;

Approved $1 million resolution for the Mayfair Terrace Sanitary Sewer Improvements Project to Palacios Marine & Industrial Coatings, Inc., of Palacios.

TUESDAY'S 2013 BUDGET AMENDMENTS

City council approved four changes that increased the total budget to $144.39 million from $143.59 million.

Increased the General Fund by $220,000, bringing its total to $51.6 million

Increased Convention and Visitor's Bureau Fund by $106,000, bringing its total to $957,693

Increased Environmental Services Fund by $72,674, bringing its total to $8.15 million

Increased Vehicle and Equipment Services Fund by $397,500, bringing its total to $5.8 million.

The budget Victoria City Council members voted on Tuesday included about $900,000 in additional expenses.

The most costly expense was a nearly $400,000 increase for three trucks to keep yard waste pick up and brush and bulky service under the city's control, rather than a private business.

Council gave a nod during its first budget vote to keep the two waste services public.

While that decision added about $470,000 in expenses, including personnel and the three trucks, but keeps rates low for residential customers.

Councilman Joe Truman said the move is the best service at the best price.

"I think we're doing a great service to the city in keeping it the way we are," he said.

Staff's recommendation would have raised fees by 98 cents and dropped service to every other week with a private company. The council's decision raised fees by 70 cents and maintains weekly pick up service on the two wastes.

Customers' monthly bills will increase to $18.85 from $18.15

Councilman Tom Halepaska said it is the best value.

The additional expenses lowered the the city's unallocated and contingent fund to $15,000.

Councilman Paul Polasek said that shows how close the budget is to "being dead-on balanced."

"We still have all our savings," Polasek said. "There are always changes" to the budget.

Councilman Emett Alvarez called his first city budget "a learning experience."

"The revenues are coming in at a healthy rate," he said, adding that he hopes that continues.

He said a major achievement is bringing the tax rate down to the effective rate.

The proposed rate is 60.56 cents for each $100 of taxable property value, down from 64.5 cents per $100 valuation.

The new rate would cost the owner of a $100,000 house about $605.60, a savings of $39.40 over the current rate if that home value stayed the same.

Councilwoman Josephine Soliz said she is glad the process is going smoothly.

"Unless some of those (capital improvement) projects come in under cost, we'd be cutting it close," Soliz said. "With the wisdom of the finance staff, they'll let us know before that happens. We've done cuts in the past and I'm sure we will again."

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