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Port Neches sets budget proposal, hearing for tax rate

PORT NECHES — The Port Neches City Council approved a Sept. 3 date to adopt the proposed 2020-21 fiscal year budget and tax rate.

The proposed budget for FY 2020-21 totals $19,064,250 with a $145,160 increase from last year.

The sum covers several components including the General Fund, Debt Service Fund, Water and Sewer Fund, Street Maintenance Fund and more.

City Manager Andre Wimer gave a brief presentation on the budget at the Council’s August meeting.

“There are costs for personnel, costs for insurance, supplies, products … there’s any number of costs that are involved in our budget,” he said. “In any governmental operations, personnel costs are going to be a high percentage of the overall budget.”

Fifty-six percent of all expenditures are spent on personnel.

While there are no new positions, the number does include a 2 percent increase in the cost-of-living adjustment for all city employees.

Wimer said that amount has varied over time. Last year’s employees were given a 3 percent salary raise.

Mayor Glenn Johnson said the city’s employees deserve every bit of their raise.

“They absolutely came through in the explosion and, after that, the pandemic,” he said. “They’ve been mustering through and doing what they need to do to social distance, wear masks and be an example for others. They absolutely deserve any raise the city can give them, and this is what we can give them. I absolutely love it.”

The city’s general fund expenditures are projected to be $11,423,650, which shows a decrease in expenditures from last year’s $11,453,150.

Revenue decreased by $100,000. Expenditures decreased by $29,500.

Wimer said the fluctuation includes a large decrease in capital by 85 percent.

“We had some impact from the TPC incident that affected that revenue stream,” he said. “On the expenditures, there is also a reduction and a large decrease in capital. We have minimized capital expenditures for the upcoming fiscal year because revenues went down.”

Capital expenditures include costs spent on equipment and vehicles for the police and fire departments, as well as entities such as parks and recreation, public works department and the Effie & Wilton Hebert Public Library.

At this time there are no proposed changes in the water and sewer or sanitation rates.

City officials will discuss the proposed tax rate at the next council meeting, Aug. 20 at 4 p.m.

Current tax trends are showing an estimated increase of $163,530 in total taxes from 2019-20 to 2020-21. Total taxes estimated for the 2020-21 fiscal year is $7,130,000.

Neither of these two numbers are final yet and are based upon preliminary value from the Jefferson County Appraisal District.

“We, and all entities, have received the final verified tax roll,” Wimer said. “We are, however, currently working and preparing a proposed tax rate now that the final valuation has been received.”

The city council will vote on the tax rate and budget at the Sept. 3 meeting at 4 p.m. A public hearing on the tax rate will be open prior to the meeting.