Angleton City Hall

ANGLETON — City council approved a budget and tax rate this week that calls for higher utility costs and a tax rate that brings in more revenue than last year.

In a 4 to 2 vote, council adopted a tax rate of 61.87 cents per $100 of taxable value, which is the highest council could adopt without needing voter approval.

The rate is a drop from last year’s 63.3-cent rate, but is more than eight cents higher than the no-new-revenue rate of 53.58 cents.

Revenue can be higher on the same tax rate from year to year if property values went up.

With another 4 to 2 vote, council passed the budget, which includes a cost-of-living pay adjustment for employees.

Angleton had a 6-4-2 plan when handling the adjustment. This is a 6 percent adjustment for those earning less than $40,000, 4 percent for those from $40,000 to $60,000 and 2 percent for those above $60,000, City Manager Chris Whittaker said.

Councilmen Travis Townsend and John Wright voted against approving the budget and tax rate, while Mayor Jason Perez, Council members Christiene Daniel, Mark Gongora and Cecil Booth voted for it.

“Because we still have to battle our numbers with inflation with the cost of everything and trying to retain our employees and give them a cost of living adjustment,” Perez said. “I felt that I needed to vote yes because of that. It’s affecting everybody and everyone’s checkbook, including the cities.”

The city has repairs to make and needs to maintain the level of service that people are accustomed to, Perez said.

Daniel agreed and said the living adjustment was a priority in this budget.

“We commended our staff for their budget-keeping abilities all year,” she said. “This tax rate gives us the ability to give back to them and the cost of living adjustment necessary to keep us competitive with the other cities. We’ve been behind with their raises over the years.”

On the other side, Wright said residents already are dealing with high inflation and costs without a higher tax bill.

“While I understand the necessity to retain and attract the best employees, I couldn’t support a 16.1 percent increase over the no-new revenue rate,” he said. “We are already budgeting to increase the water and sewer rates ... taking this action is a major cost to our citizens, and adding the property tax increase would further burden our residents.”

Households are taking extreme cost-cutting actions in some cases, and the city also took many cost-cutting reductions, Wright said.

General funds are budgeted at $18.4 million for revenue and expenses, while the water fund budget is $10.9 million.

“The consumer price index went up between 8 and 9 percent. There were many things affected with large increases,” Whittaker said. “We tried to support the employees who were impacted. We’ve only really done 1 percent cost of living adjustments for the past couple of years, so we’ve been behind.”

The tax rate will bring in about $1 million more than last year’s, which is a 13.6 percent increase in property tax revenue, Interim Finance Director Tenecha Williams said.

“It was a combination of all costs, such as health care and insurance, and we worked hard to mitigate those costs, but it was tough on a limited budget,” Whittaker said.

Expenses increased to $18.1 million compared to 2022’s $17.2 million, including payroll, health care, personnel costs, travel/training, supplies, repair and maintenance, services and capital projects, Williams said.

Another considerable cost for Angleton is the 38 percent difference in fees it will be charged by Brazosport Water Authority, the city’s wholesale water supplier.

Williams expects the city to eat some of that increase for water until new developments come online and bring in more water revenue.

In conjunction with the Brazosport Water Authority increase, council approved an increase for utility rates of about $17 a month.

The budget includes increased water rates to pay for the 12 percent increase from Brazosport Water Authority and to purchase an additional half million gallons per day.

An average customer using 5,000 gallons of water per month will pay $17 more per month under the new rate, according to city documents at the meeting.

Customers using less than 5,000 gallons per month will see a smaller increase, and those using more than 5,000 gallons per month will see a larger increase.

“We had the rate study done two years ago, and based on current needs and assessment of infrastructure, we need repairs and enhancements and upgrades,” Perez said. “How do we get that through funding? We identified that if we do increase our utility rate, that will start helping to fund some projects.”

Raven Wuebker is a reporter for The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0152.

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