With a week to go until giving final approval, Brownwood City Council members gave first-reading approval Tuesday to the budget, tax rate and utility rates for the 2017-’18 fiscal year.
    Council members also approved an ordinance on first reading setting fees, rentals, licenses and permits for the new fiscal year.
    All of those items will go before the council Sept. 26 for second/final readings.
    The $34.35 million budget is 2.3 percent larger than the current budget. It is available on the city’s website, in the city secretary’s office and at the Brownwood Public Library.
    A copy of the detail budget is available upon request and is also available on the city’s website and in the city secretary’s office.
    Finance Director Walter Middleton presented a proposed budget in August that relies on a combination of a property tax rate hike — the first since 1999 — and increases in utility rates and other fees. Council members had initially considered a budget that contained larger fee and utility rate increases but no increase in the tax rate.
    The increases in the tax rate and fees and utility rates are projected to add a total of $7.05 a month, or $84.60 a year, to an average residence valued at $92,750, Middleton’s budget presentation stated.
    “This budget is about as bare bones as it gets,” Middleton said. “There’s just no way to get the budget done without revenue increases.”
    Council members voted in August to adopt a tax rate of 79.46 cents per $100 valuation, up from the current rate of 74.63 cents. The council held public hearings on the proposed tax rate on Sept. 5 and Sept.
    The budget contains utility rate increases of:
    • Water consumption rate is increased by 1.8 percent to cover the increase in the cost of wholesale water from the Brown County Water Improvement District of 3.59 percent.
    • The sewer rate is increased by 8.4 percent to cover bond payments on improvements to the wastewater treatment plant.
    • The sanitation rate is increased by 4 percent to make capital lease payments on two new trash trucks and to cover increased maintenance costs on the aging fleet.
    • The landfill gate rate is increased by 5 percent to cover increased operating costs at the landfill.
    The ordinance setting charges for fees, rentals, licenses and permits does not contain increases.