Tax Rate Increase, Additional Fire & PD Staffing in Proposed CS Budget

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COLLEGE STATION - College Station city council members got their first look at the proposed 2015 budget Thursday night. City staff made the presentation of the 200-plus page document that includes a proposed tax rate increase and more staffing to emergency services.

The proposed budget for 2015 totals just over $253 million. That's down less than 1% over the current fiscal year's budget. Included is the increase to the tax rate. The proposed budget recommends a 2.6542 cent increase to bring the tax rate to 45.25 cents per $100 value. That will bring the city an additional $1.9 million in revenue. For a resident with an average home value of $224,000, the proposed tax rate increase would mean they pay $59.59 more a year.

There's also a 15% increase on commercial sanitation rates to help operating costs.

Emergency services could see growth. The proposed budget recommends creating six new positions at the College Station Fire Department. Two of those would be in the Traffic division. The recession caused city departments to readjust some staff and CSPD pulled some officers off traffic and into other areas. This budget would see the Traffic division grow. There's also an Animal Control position proposed in the 2015 budget, as well as three support staff positions.

College Station Fire Department could see seven positions added if approved. Two positions would complete the department's EMS/Safety Officer program. Five positions would be added to start the process of fully staffing another ladder truck. The city already has one ladder truck. This second ladder truck would be kept at Station 6 on University Avenue.

Traffic is a big concern for city staff. Texas A&M is projected to have more than 59,000 students in the coming years. College Station has an Intelligent Traffic System master plan in place to begin replacing traffic equipment to better handle the larger numbers expected to travel to and from the city. Other items in the proposed 2015 budget include an additional $600,000 for street repairs.

City Manager Kelly Templin said College Station is playing a little catch up from the recession. City staff said this budget will also work on attracting and retaining qualified employees. The 2015 budget proposes a 3.5% pool for performance pay increases to city employees. There are proposed pay increases for sworn police positions and continued funding for the pay plans in the Fire and Electric Departments.

College Station City Council will be breaking down the budget in workshops August 18 - 20. Public hearings on the proposed tax rate increase is scheduled for September 3rd and 11th. A public hearing on the proposed budget is set for September 11th as well. If things progress according to the city's schedule, the proposed College Station city budget for fiscal year 2015 could be adopted on September 22nd.

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