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Raises for Groves workers: City hopes to be more competitive with employers

GROVES — Employees with the city of Groves will soon see a pay raise as the city works to be more competitive for employees with their local counterparts.

Depending on their job, employees will receive anywhere from a 3 to 6 percent raise while those in the police and fire departments will see a 6 to 9 percent increase.

City manager D. Sosa said the city has 99 employees with 21 in the police department, 14 in the fire department and the remainder in other departments. The cost of the wages and salaries in the new and updated wage and salary plan come in at about  $375,000.

The figures reveal just some of what the city is dealing with in forming its Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

The overall budget, which includes the general fund, comes in at $18.6 million in revenue and expenditures — just $1,760 more than last year’s budget.

Other highlights of the budget include:

• Two new officers, $135,000, revenue neutral with budgeted overtime dropping from $275,000 to $40,000

• Two new police cars, $70,000

• Drainage improvements, $40,000, with an increase in storm water flow to a Drainage District 7 ditch on West Jefferson

• Parks improvements, $100,000

• Solid waste department — purchase of new garbage truck, $290,000, with increased landfill fees up from $400,000 to $435,000

• Systems fund— purchase of new registers and parts for meters $60,000. An increase in base water and sewer rates, $1 each, will add $2 to each utility bill.

Sosa explained that after four years of increases in property values this new proposed budget shows a decrease in values due to Hurricane Harvey, which flooded over 2,500 homes.

“This thankfully is only a temporary decrease resulting from the decreased values of the damaged homes,” Sosa said in his memo to the council. 

The tax roll showed a drop of $9 million, moving from $730.4 million to $721.4 million.

Sosa looked at the bright side of the revenue and tax roll issue — new construction. While Harvey’s effects were felt, it will be a short-lived decrease in values.

New home construction has been increasing for some years:

• In 2014, 11 homes constructed, $2 million value and two homes razed.

• In 2015, 20 homes constructed, $3.7 million value and 10 homes razed.

• In 2016, 33 homes constructed, $6.2 million value and seven homes razed.

• In 2017, 26 homes constructed, $5.4 million value and five homes razed.

• In 2018, 37 new homes constructed, $6.7 million value, six homes razed

• Total: 127 new homes constructed from 2014 to 2018, $24.2 million value and 30 homes razed.

Additionally, the Indian Springs plat has 134 lots under development, Amber Estates plat has 19 lots under development, Heritage Point has 22 lots built out and K.L. Butler has 14 lots built out

Tax rate

Sosa is recommending a tax rate hike to fund the budget with a proposed rate of 76 cents per $100 of assessed value.

The total effective rate or the rate to which would bring in the same amount of revenue as before is 73.05 cents per $100 valuation. The tax rate increase would bring about a small increase of a little over $3.40 per month or $40 per year on a home valued at $100,000.

The proposed budget and tax rate will be up for approval during the Sept. 17 meeting.