POINT COMFORT – The Point Comfort City Council adopted its Fiscal Year 2020 budget as well as tax rate following two public hearings Monday.
There were no members of the public in attendance at Monday’s meeting.
After closing the hearings, Councilwoman Linda Brush made a motion to accept the proposed budget that Councilman Mitch McBride seconded. The vote was unanimous. Councilman George Hernandez was not in attendance due to a conflict.
Brush also moved to accept the property tax rate of $1.2307 per $100 valuation, which is effectively an eight percent increase in the tax rate. McBride seconded the motion, and the vote was unanimous.
Also, during the meeting, the council approved the budget for the Point Comfort Municipal Development District.
During the Friday, Sept. 20, meeting, City Attorney Carly Wall said the district was created several years ago when voters approved an additional sales tax. The revenue from the sales taxes is put into a separate fund and are not part of the general fund, she said.
The fund, she said, has $370,000 and tax revenue is expected to be more than $224,000 with an ending balance of more than $595,000.
The funds can be used for economic development to bring people into Point Comfort such as parks, facility improvements, parking and such. Currently, there are no projects planned for the funds and no expenditures expected, she said.
During the first hearing on the tax rate, Friday, Point Comfort resident Lloyd Metlock asked why taxes were going up.
City Attorney Carly Wall said the city had seen a substantial decrease in its overall assessed value and a lot of that was due to a reduction by local industries in inventory.
The rate has “not been increased for a few years as they were trying to maintain a flat rate,” said Wall.
“When industries reduce inventory, they don’t have to pay much. This has happened several years in a row, and it is really hard this year,” said Brush.
John Warren, a Point Comfort resident, pointed out that revenue from taxes on homeowners is not near enough to what is needed to operate the city.
“It’s getting hard and harder to function as a city,” said Mayor Leslie Machicek. “Once the school closed those living here that are low to moderate-income was at 45 percent. Now, low to moderate-income is not at 65 percent, and that puts us in a bind.”
She also noted that the state legislature passed a law capping tax rate increases at 3.5 percent, which is why they are going up on the rate this year.
“We are losing employees right and left, and we need to give them raises in order to keep them. We keep looking for other revenue options. We’re going to a tiered water rate, which won’t affect residents, and we’re looking at other kinds of help. Right now, we’re in a bind.”
Metlock asked about annexation and Wall said the city couldn’t do it. She noted the state legislature approved a law curtailing annexation. “Cities were cut off at the knees for expanding their cities,” she said.
Machicek would like to see more businesses come into Point Comfort. “I would like to see a truck stop. We have about 500 trucks a day. There are some ideas about a camper park at the bayfront, but that would cost with water, sewer and roads. And you don’t want to see someone’s property value go down, but we’re open to ideas.”
Also, during the meeting, the council discussed the budget for the municipal development district.