Inflation, fuel costs force Port Neches budget amendment

Published 12:34 am Wednesday, July 27, 2022

PORT NECHES — The City of Port Neches recently amended the 2021-22 budget after unanticipated expenditures largely due to inflation and the cost of fuel negatively impacted several different funds.

“Like all of the city has been impacted by inflation that’s occurred in the last several months, as well as fuel costs, so primarily the adjustments are due to those inflation rates on supplies, materials, chemicals — all those types of things,” said City Manager Andre Wimer. “We’ve incurred some costs that were not anticipated as we went through the budget process last year.”

In the General Fund, revenues increased by $43,000, while expenditures increased $516,700 primarily for fuel, the inflated cost of supplies and materials, overtime pay and property insurances, according to information from the city.

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According to AAA, the current average for regular unleaded fuel in Southeast Texas is $3.90 per gallon. This is a decrease from last month’s average at $4.51, but this time last year saw an average of $2.80.

The Sanitation Fund saw a decrease of $5,000 in revenue and an increase of $294,000 in costs for supplies and materials — the most significant being the garbage bags supplied twice a year to residents.

This year, Wimer said, the cost to purchase the bags increased from $70,000 to $103,000. A future increase up to $130,000 is expected.

This became the focus of a discussion during the preliminary presentation of the proposed 2022-2023 budget, when it was mentioned that eliminating the long-standing practice of providing trash bags could change in the future.

“I understand again this is a dramatic departure from what the city has done in the past and if we want to continue that service…we’ll need to look at some sort of rate adjustment,” Wimer said.

Mayor Glenn Johnson said the suggestion was only part of a discussion among council members.

“It could very well not happen,” he said, adding if it did, it would not be an issue until the 2023-24 fiscal year. “If the tax roll increases, we may not need to do that.”

Another dramatic change to the proposed budget is the elimination of a new garbage truck. The city purchases one each year, Wimer said, as they carry a life cycle of six years.

The cost of purchasing a new truck in the next fiscal year would rise from $225,000 to $335,000.

“At this point I’ve not seen anything that would indicate that there would be any significant decrease in the inflation rate that we’ve been experiencing,” Wimer said. “This is a challenge that all of the cities are facing.”

The proposed budget, he said, is lean and the only capital purchases included are in the police and fire departments.

The general fund again has been a challenge. It does reflect for the upcoming fiscal year a budget deficit of a little over $172K. And that’s certainly not favorable, but in the context of this year when we had a 700K deficit, we’re doing pretty good.”

There will be a public hearing regarding the proposed budget Aug. 18 at City Hall during the regular council meeting, which begins at 4 p.m.

A copy of the proposed budget can be viewed by clicking here.