Brownwood City Council members held their first workshop Tuesday evening on City Manager Emily Crawford’s proposed $33.58 million balanced budget for fiscal year 2016-’17.
    A second workshop, if needed, will be held Thursday evening.
    The proposed budget, which is 2.5 percent larger than the current budget, contains a 5.4 percent increase in the retail water consumption rate, according to a budget summary sheet. The proposed increase would cover the Brownwood Water Improvement District’s decision to increase wholesale treated water rates and would mean an increase of $1.20 a month to the average residential water customer, Finance Director Walter Middleton said.
    No other rate increases are contained in the budget.
    City employees will receive 2 percent pay raises if Brownwood City Council members approve the proposed budget in September. Meet and Confer proposed agreements with the police and fire departments will result in pay raises for both departments, which will add $250,634 to the budget.
    This is the second year of implementation of a salary survey performed in 2015, and addressing wages will be a continuous effort, the summary sheet states. The proposed budget includes increasing the base pay for the remaining five employees identified in last year’s survey as below the minimum pay level for their classification. Pay raises to bring them up to the minimum added $32,950 to the budget.
    According to the summary sheet:
    Modest revenue increases are projected. Property values will increase by 3.7 percent, but because of the tax freeze for seniors and the disabled, the city’s tax take will be reduced by $27,820. Of the properties not subjected to the freeze, the city’s property tax revenue will increase by $57,726 because of increases in value.
    The proposed budget will be presented at an Aug. 23 public hearing.