The Devine City Council is facing hard choices after reviewing a proposed deficit budget for the 2017-2018 Fiscal Year.
The proposed tax rate for the upcoming year is $.5110 per $100 valuation, the same as Fiscal Year 2016-2017.
The proposed budget presented to the Council in a Special meeting last Tuesday, Sept. 12 projected operating expenditures of $3.2 million and revenue of $3.1 million in the general fund.
In a meeting on Aug. 8, Council voted to spend $125,350 to repair streets in each district, including a seal coat of Dilley Ave. in District 3 and a complete reconstruct of Jefferson Dr. in District 4.
Interim City Administrator Dora Rodriguez said that City Engineer Raul Garcia did a more thorough inspection of the streets after Council had selected the ones to be repaired, and determined that Dilley needs a complete reconstruct as well.
Reconstruction of Jefferson and Dilley alone is estimated to cost $240,000. If Council decides to continue with repairs to other streets as decided in the Aug. 8 meeting, the cost is estimated at $294,000.
Additional capital outlays call for a transfer of $85,000 from the sewer and water fund to the general fund. A two percent increase in garbage fees was also included.
Projected expenditures for the sewer and water fund are $1.9 million, with revenues of $1.7 million. Those figures include a five percent increase in both water and sewer rates in order to help fund the replacement of asbestos cement water pipes.
The lodging tax fund was projected to have $8,000 in revenue.
“If you notice, we took out the $10,000 to the Chamber of Commerce totally,” City Financial Advisor Mary Badillo said, “and with that, we have a surplus.”
The Chamber of Commerce is typically granted around $10,000 a year from the lodging fund to help pay for the Fall Festival.
Badillo added that non-salaried City staff members who worked the Fall Festival last year were paid nearly $5,000 of overtime.
“So basically Fall Festival cost us $15,000 last year,” District 5 Councilman Cory Thompson said.
Rodriguez pointed out that the City also arranges for electricity for the Fall Festival, and that City office workers typically answer phone calls about the Festival in the days leading up to it.
“So the bottom line is, we’re not going to give them the $10,000,” Mayor Bill Herring said.
“Well, I mean, we wanted y’all to look at that,” Rodriguez replied.
“They’re going to come and ask, that’s for sure,” District 3 Councilman David Espinosa said. “They do every year.”
“They need to start having some fundraisers or something,” District 4 Councilwoman Kathy Wilkins added. “They need to figure that out.”
The Chamber of Commerce was scheduled to request money for the Fall Festival in the Regular City Council meeting on press night on Tuesday, Sept. 19.
Rodriguez told Council that she, Badillo, and City Treasurer/Accountant Denise Duffy were going to continue working on the budget, “and then hopefully be able to bring you back better numbers.”
By Marly Davis