State of West Columbia

City Manager Debbie Sutherland hugs West Columbia Chamber of Commerce President Callie Venable as she’s presented with a gift after speaking at the State of the Community luncheon Tuesday.

WEST COLUMBIA — City Manager Debbie Sutherland asked attendees of the State of the Community Luncheon to close their eyes and picture a perfect West Columbia.

As she described a little downtown with quaint shops, hot coffee and homemade pie, Sutherland told the guests about how making improvements to the city is the goal of its local government.

During the luncheon hosted by the West Columbia Chamber of Commerce, three guest speakers addressed residents about the county budget, West Columbia’s improvement projects and the Columbia-Brazoria ISD bond that will be on the Nov. 5 ballot.

“Much like in your own home, you have to live within your means,” Sutherland said. “The city is no different.”

With the start of October came a new fiscal year, and Sutherland broke down the city’s budget and discussed the differences between the general fund and the utility fund, with the general fund accounting for 63 percent of the city’s overall budget.

Sutherland explained the city’s projects, including the completion of major project Well No. 4, which will become active as soon as the city receives approval from the Texas Commission on Environ-mental Quality.

County growth and investment in the community were central topics addressed by County Judge Matt Sebesta. It’s a great time to be in the county and officials are excited about the budget this upcoming year, he said.

“Since 2013, we are right about at $30 billion in petrochemical investment,” Sebesta said. “We’ve been able to provide about 10,000 construction jobs. … There’s a lot of reasons people come to this county. The land is a little cheaper, the quality of life and our school districts are excellent. We have fantastic schools in this county.”

The population is expected to increase by almost 30,000 people in the next year, with higher projections into 2050, Sebesta said.

In preparation for area growth and because the community expressed an interest in restructuring grade levels, Columbia-Brazoria ISD Superintendent Steven Galloway encouraged guests to look carefully at the proposed $11.5 million bond for a new sixth-grade wing at West Brazos Junior High.

“The funds for this bond would be used for (the sixth-graders),” Galloway said. “The facilities would have 10 classrooms, two science labs, two large group instruction areas … it’s just academic space.”

Following Galloway’s words, Mayor Laurie Kincannon asked that the community rally behind the bond and vote to approve it for the future of C-BISD students.

Courtney Blackann is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0152.

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