BRAZORIA — City Council officially adopted its budget and tax rate, dropping the city’s property tax rate more than four cents.

Council unanimously accepted the rollback tax rate of 68 cents per $100 of property value, down from the current rate of 72.2 cents, at their meeting Tuesday afternoon, Mayor Roger Shugart said.

Councilwoman Susan Parker could not make the meeting, he said.

The council also accepted an 18-cent increase in residential water bills, which covers the Brazosport Water Authority’s rate increase to the city, Shugart said. Though that may offset some of the tax rate decrease, he said he’s excited the city is able to decrease the rate.

“I’m very pleased with our council, happy with each and every one of them,” Shugart said.

Lower debt payments allowed the lower rate.

Up to $58,000 could go toward pay raises for city employees if all receive the full, $1-per-hour increase, City Manager Olan Massingill said. That includes raises for the city manager and police chief, he said.

Police Chief Neal Longbotham will get a $3,000 increase, bringing his annual salary from $67,626 to more than $70,000. Massingill asked for a $65,000 salary for himself, up from the $55,000 he agreed to when he started in April. Council happily agreed to both at previous meetings.

The $1 hourly raises are merit-based and department heads will choose how to distribute them, Massingill said. If a department head does not give the full dollar to all employees, they can use the spare money to give another employee a raise more than $1 an hour, he said.

They can also choose to give multiple raises throughout the fiscal year, Massingill said.

The city budgeted for the same amount of street repairs as last year, Massingill said, which was close to $600,000, The Facts previously reported.

Other notable expenses include upgrades to the city’s phone and computer systems, he said.

The phone system will be billed monthly and cost about $150 a month, Massingill said.

The $14,000 computer upgrade is systemwide, he said. Many computers and programs are still running on the Windows 7 operating system, for which Microsoft technical support and security updates will end in January, Massingill said. The city will upgrade to Windows 10, he said.

The fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Maddy McCarty is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0151.

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