A “typical” Brownwood residential utility bill of $84 in the 2007-’08 fiscal year - consisting of water, sewer and sanitation - will increase to just under $90 for the same amount of consumption in 2008-’09, the city’s finance director, Walter Middleton, said.
Middleton based those numbers on City Manager Bobby Rountree’s preliminary $30.52 million budget, which Brownwood City Council members reviewed last week. The council did not make any cuts to Rountree’s budget, which is scheduled for a final approval on Sept. 23.
Council members will have an additional budget workshop if necessary after the city is notified of its effective tax rate, rollback rate and the Brown County Water Improvement District’s bond rate. The budget does not include an increase in the property tax rate, which is 74.52 cents per $100 valuation.
Middleton’s “typical” utility bill calculations showed a 6.7 percent increase in the total bill.
Increases in the water base rate are needed to cover increased bond payments to the water district’s new water plant and the city’s water line replacement bonds, budget documents state. An increase in the consumption rate is needed to cover the increased cost of treated water from the water district.
An increase in the sewer rate is needed because of increased costs of fuel, parts and maintenance. The sanitation rate will be increased to cover increases in landfill disposal, fuel and heavy equipment replacement.
The proposed budget, which is 4 percent larger than the current budget, contains proposed pay raises of 4 percent for department heads and 6 percent for non-Civil Service employees. It places a 6 percent increase into a pool for police and firefighter salaries, with allocation determined during the Meet and Confer process.
Factors in the budget, according to budget documents, include:
• Pay raises and benefit costs - The city continues to experience significant turnover in key departments. Retirement benefits to the Texas Municipal Retirement System will increase by 11.3 percent, and medical insurance costs will increase by 11 percent.
• Property tax - Valuations are 6.7 percent higher than last year, resulting in an additional $279,391 in revenue.
• Sales tax - An increase of 1.5 percent is projected, adding $66,405 to revenue.
• Fuel - Costs are expected to increase by 15 percent.
• Attrition - Two positions have been eliminated, saving $94,854. The Community Development Department has been eliminated, saving $8,770 over payroll costs.
• Infrastructure - The city wants to maintain funds for street, water line and sewer line replacement. The city has bond funds available for some street work and is looking at potential future bonds for major street improvements.
• To emphasize code enforcement, the city has reorganized the department into what is now called Development Services. Two positions have been transferred from the water and public works department into Development Services.
• Landfill - Annual funding for cell construction will increase by $308,000.
• Inflation - The inflation rate for cities during the last 12 months was 11.4 percent.