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CHRIS DUQUE — Inside look at Nederland taxes, road work and other plans

In August, the City Council began the process of adopting the fiscal year 2021-2022 budget and the tax rate. On Aug. 16, the proposed budget was formally submitted to the City Council, and the City Council proposed the “no-new revenue” tax rate of $0.517206 per $100 assessed value.

Public hearings were held on the proposed budget and tax rate on Monday, Aug. 30 with no public input received. The FY 2021-22 budget and tax rate will be voted on by the City Council on Thursday, Sept. 16 at 4:30 p.m.

The proposed FY 21-22 budget totals $30,878,891 across all funds. The General Fund is designed to be unbalanced with revenues totaling $12,443,681 and expenditures totaling $14,318,681; the unbalanced budget is designed to draw down the General Fund fund balance by $2M, which will fund various capital projects.

The significant expenditure increases are the creation of a new police officer position, which will facilitate a new police detective position, allocating funds to replace the carpet at the Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library, $1,000,000 transferred-out to the Street Improvement Fund, and $915,000 transferred-out to the Parks Special Fund.

The Water & Sewer Fund is balanced with revenues and expenditures totaling $5,536,038. The significant expenditure increases are greater windstorm insurance allocations, raw water costs, credit card fees and water meters.

Due to the cost increase in providing water and sewer service, it is necessary to adjust the water/sewer rates effective Oct. 1. The water and sewer base rates are both increased by $0.25; the per 1,000 gallons water rate is increased by $0.50; the per 1,000 gallons sewer rate is increased by $0.40.

The Solid Waste Fund is balanced with revenues and expenditures totaling $1,684,878. No solid waste rate adjustment is proposed. The only significant expenditure increase is waste disposal (landfill contract with Republic).

Capital projects

A number of capital projects are included in the proposed budget. Over $3,000,000 is allocated for the 2021/2022 Street Program; at this time, the City has four programmed street projects (concrete repairs on 21st Street between Detroit and Helena, Avenue H between 14th Street and the Hwy 69 frontage road, and 30th Street between Nederland Ave and West Atlanta Ave); the City Council will select the other street projects later in the year.

Using grant funding, generators will be installed at four lift stations, which will complete the generator installation project at all the wastewater facilities.

The Wastewater Treatment Plant Improvements Phase 1 and Phase 2 projects will be completed; over $2M is being invested in the sewer plant. The City plans to complete $4.35M in street, bridge, and drainage improvements utilizing 2021 Certificates of Obligation.

Utilizing Harvey Disaster Recovery Program funds ($4,259,659), drainage improvements will be completed in the Hilldale/Hill Terrace area and the areas near 3rd Street, Texas, and 1st Street between Nederland Ave and Boston Ave.

Improvements

Quality of life improvements include the installation of new carpeting at the Library (replacing 15-year old carpet), landscaping improvements and electrical repairs at Tex Ritter Park, the installation of new playground equipment at 5th Street Park, construction of a half-court basketball court at Cropo LeBlanc Park, re-surfacing the tennis courts at Doornbos Park, installation of a new playground at Doornbos Park, re-surfacing the parking lot at Babe Ruth field, complete parking lot/concrete drive repairs at Doornbos Park, installation of fencing around the waterslide, and re-surfacing the swimming pool deck.

The proposed budget is based on utilization of the “no-new revenue” tax rate that will result in the tax rate decreasing due to the appraisal increase. The current tax rate is $0.579708 per $100 assessed taxable value, which is the lowest municipal tax rate in Jefferson County.

The proposed tax rate is $0.517206. In 2019, the State Legislature approved Senate Bill 2 that made significant changes to property taxes. Previously, the City discussed adopting a tax rate between the “effective tax rate” (the benchmark tax rate needed to raise the same amount of maintenance and operations property taxes on existing property as the previous year after taking into account changes in appraised values) and the “rollback tax rate” (the tax rate necessary to raise precisely 8% more maintenance and operations tax revenue as the year before after taking into account appraisal fluctuations).

Following SB2, the term “effective tax rate” has been changed to “no-new-revenue tax rate” and “rollback tax rate” has been changed to “voter-approval tax rate.” The “voter-approval tax rate” is calculated utilizing 3.5% instead of eight percent.

The 2021 Hurricane Season began on June 1st, and the peak of the season is September 10th. Communication is vital during an emergency. The City utilizes the Southeast Texas Alerting Network (STAN) and our social media pages to push emergency notices.

If you have not already registered for STAN or have family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, etc. who have not already registered, please register for STAN at https://thestan.com or call 844-578-7826.

Also follow the City’s Facebook pages: “The City of Nederland, TX,” “Nederland Police Department,” “Nederland Fire Rescue,” “Nederland Recreation Center,” “Marion & Ed Hughes Public Library,” and “Nederland Animal Shelter.”

COVID

The COVID-19 Delta variant continues to plague our region. The City is strongly urging all eligible individuals to get the COVID-19 vaccine.

The federal government, state government, and leading medical experts all recommend vaccinations and recognize vaccination is the strongest tool to contain the pandemic. Citizens are urged to wear a mask, social distance, and practice sound hygiene practices as much as possible.

Finally, on Sept. 6th, we celebrate Labor Day – an annual celebration of the achievements of the American workers.

I want to thank the employees of the City of Nederland who in the past 12 months have dealt with two hurricanes, a winter storm, and a pandemic.

The men and women of this organization have done an amazing job in their performance of their duties and have repeatedly volunteered and donated to help those in need. THANK YOU.

And thank you to all workers, especially those in industries impacted the most by the COVID-19 pandemic.

If there are any questions regarding City operations, please contact the City Manager’s Office at (409) 723-1503.

Chris Duque is city manager for Nederland. He can be reached at CDuque@ci.nederland.tx.us.