Upcoming election, budget talks on table in Groves

Published 1:58 pm Monday, July 10, 2017

GROVES — Groves Council has a busy meeting ahead of them on Monday at 5:30 p.m. as they call for an election for two council seats and take a look at their upcoming fiscal year budget.

The ward 1 seat, held by Jim Rasa, and the ward 3 seat, held by Sidney Badon, are up for grabs in the Nov. 7 general election. Filing begins July 24 and ends Aug. 21.

Councilmembers will hear a summary of the 2016-2017 fiscal year budget where they will learn of items expected to impact the budget such as an 11 percent increase n employee and dependent health insurance, Groves City Manager D. Sosa said.

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Currently, the cost paid by the city and employees is around $1.1 million per year for health insurance on 100 employees and 45 dependents.

Sosa admits it will be difficult but the city’s budgets are always tight and there is no plan that he is aware of to lay off any employees.

“We work really hard to stay in the budget and we’re seeing a lot of growth and improvements,” he said.

The city’s debt service is expected to drop from $1.6 million to about $400,000 next year thus freeing up cash for the streets program.

“I’m not saying it’s not tight, but we are managing it and just one more very tight year then we’ll be able to do more projects,” he said.

The projects can be done without a tax increase with the freed up money from debt service.

Sosa and staff are not recommending any increases in water, sewer or garbage. The city’s growth has actually added water customers, which shows growth.

There is the possibility of a fourth of a tenth of a cent tax increase.

“Considering this example, fourth of a tenth of a cent is less than half a penny and will add about $4 to every $100,000 in value if we end up doing this,” he said.

Sosa is still waiting for the county to release the effective tax rates and certified values — figures that are used in calculating the budget.

Unlike neighboring communities, the city of Groves is landlocked and has no in lieu of or industrial tax agreements.

But there is good news. During the first eight months of this fiscal year the city has seen 68 new homes built. The yearly average prior to the last fiscal year was 20 homes per year.

During meetings over the next few months, department heads will make small presentations over their proposed budgets. Sosa expects the budget to be ready for a vote by around Sept. 18 though no official date has been declared.

Reporter: Mary Meaux, 409-721-2429

Twitter: @MaryMeauxPANews