CS City Council Reviews 2013 Budget, Conference Center Problems, Lick Creek Trail

A bigger police department and lower property tax rate are two of the most significant changes for next year's proposed College Station budget.

The budget calls for spending around $6.5 million more than last year as the economy continues to recover.

The proposed $253,133,611 budget includes beefing up public safety and includes $895,681 for six police officers and one sergeant and related equipment to be staffed in Northgate as that area continues to grow both with students and future growth under way.

Thursday was the city council's first look at the 2013 budget and in a recent survey residents ranked public safety as their highest priority for the city.

Nearly $900,000 includes paying for the additional officers in Northgate as well as vehicles and equipment to staff them there as part of an effort to address crime and congestion in that area.

Ten positions from other city departments are expected to be eliminated though.

From Fiscal Years 2009 to 2013, 43 public safety positions have been added in College Station.

"To provide additional services in the Northgate area and the northern part of the city. You see a lot of activity out there. The budget we proposed also is proposed with the effective tax rate which is actually the tax rate that is slightly lower than what the current tax rate is. Currently the tax rate is about 43.7 cents and we are proposing a tax rate just a littl bit over 43 cents," said Jeff Kersten, College Station Chief Financial Officer.

Sales tax revenue is also expected to grow but only slightly from a forecasted $21.7 million up from the current $21.3 million this fiscal year.

A public hearing on the budget is scheduled for two weeks from now on August 23rd.

The city council is expected to adopt next year's budget on September 13th.

In other developments from the meeting it could cost as much as $1.82 million to get the College Station Conference Center up and running again if the city decides to do that.

The city council was briefed on the dangerous problems Thursday night.

In July the facility closed indefinitely after a structural engineer determined part of the structure wasn't safe, with concerns part of the roof could even collapse.

Meanwhile the city has been re-booking events to other locations including city buildings and even area hotels.

The College Station City Council also voted unanimously in favor of rerouting the Lick Creek hike and bike trail.

The four mile-trail will now go along city streets instead of going through a greenway in the Springbrook community which a consultant recommended.

The trail will now go along Eagle Avenue, Longmire Drive and Barron Road.

Construction is expected to begin in the summer of 2013 and end by 2014.

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