PN continues budget, tax rate talks

By Mary Meaux

The News staff writer

PORT NECHES — Staff at the city of Port Neches continue to chip away at the 2015-2016 fiscal year budget with only a few changes made since it was first presented for discussion two weeks ago.

The revised version now contains a step raise for employees in addition to a proposed 2 percent cost of living adjustment. Personnel accounts for 52 percent of the city’s expenditures.

The city’s total proposed budget comes in at $16.6 million. The general fund, which covers activities associated with primary governmental functions, includes projected general fund revenue of $9.2 million and expenditures of $9.3 million. The fund balance will be used to offset the difference making for a balanced budget.

One issue the city is facing is a loss of industrial district contract revenue in the amount of $2.5 million, which, City Manager Andrè Wimer said, reflects a decrease of $575,000.

“Because of the loss of industrial contract revenue you will not see a lot of capital expenditures,” Wimer said.

The city is looking to spend $34,000 for a police department patrol vehicle, $36,000 for fire department equipment, $95,000 for the purchase of a backhoe for the streets and drainage department and $5,000 for the purchase of a mobile (in-car) video camera for the police department among other items.

The proposed budget also includes a change to the current water rate structure in the form of a $1 per month increase.

Tax rate

Wimer proposed a tax rate of .695 per $100 valuation, which is slightly less than the 2014-2015 rate of .6954 per $100 assessed valuation. The effective rate — which is the rate that would bring in the same amount of taxes as the previous year, is .669 per $100 valuation.

For example, for a home valued at $150,000 with the 20 percent local homestead exemption would see a bill for $120,000 under the proposed tax rate.

Neither Nederland nor Groves offers a local homestead exemption.

The proposed tax rate in Nederland is .591 per $100 valuation meaning the bill for a home valued t $150,000 in Nederland would see a bill of $887.78.

Groves’ proposed tax rate of .693 per $100 valuation would cost a homeowner $1,040.40 in taxes on a $150,000 home.

Since the proposed tax rate in Port Neches is above the effective rate but below the rollback rate, the city will hold two public hearings for comments from citizens. They are scheduled for 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 3 and 4 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 11 at city hall.

Port Neches Mayor Glenn Johnson is proud of the work staff has done to get the proposed budget prepared.

“I am extremely proud of the staff and the job they have done to prepare the budget given the decrease in industrial revenue,” Johnson said. “To have a balanced budget, which we always do, is a testament to the staff and the way we operate efficiently.”

E-mail: mary.meaux@panews.com

Twitter: MaryMeauxPANews

 

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