City adopts 2018 budget, tax rate
Dave Rogers / For The Record
The City of Orange approved a $38 million budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year, which begins Sunday.
Council members voted unanimously for it at their Tuesday evening meeting.
They also unanimously voted for the city’s first tax rate hike in four years.
The rate is 71.774 cents per $100 valuation, up nearly a penny from 70.940 cents per $100 valuation.
That’s an effective tax hike of 6.23 percent.
The budget will raise more total property taxes than last year’s budget by an amount of $405,000, a 6.08 percent increase from last year’s budget.
Property tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the tax roll this year is $14,000.
The budget includes $21.3 million for the general fund, $978,000 for the debt service fund, $7.5 million for water and sewer enterprise fund, $1.7 million for water and sewer bond construction fund, $1.8 million for sanitation fund and $4.5 million for special revenue fund.
Council members also ratified a Mutual Aid Agreement between the city and Orange County, then a resolution requesting assistance from the county.
This measure is to put the city in line for full reimbursement for debris removal.
The council also agreed unanimously to extend by a year contracts for three municipal court officers.
Municipal Court Judge Jerry Pennington will be paid $4,772 per month, Cimron Campbell, the municipal court prosecutor, $2,797 per month and Alternate Municipal Court Judge George Barron $400 per month.
Council member Annette Pernell asked Shawn Oubre, city manager, if council could open up those positions for annual applications by outsiders.
Jack Smith, city attorney, opined that no one would run against Judge Pennington, but Oubre said he’d follow the wishes of the council.
Four members agreed to open the process to other interested applicants next year and Oubre said he’d do that.
Council also approved annual payments to the Texas Municipal League for property and liability insurance and for workers compensation insurance.
Property and liability insurance will cost the city $278,600 for the next fiscal year, an increase of 10.6 percent, said Cheryl Zeto, city finance officer.
Worker’s comp insurance will cost $37,100. She said that’s an increase of 4 percent from last year.
The city council also OK’d a $29,800 contract for a 2017 budget audit by Charles E. Reed and Associates and $5,600 to the same firm to audit the Economic Development Corporation’s 2017 budget.
Council also followed Oubre’s recommendation to end the local state of disaster that the city had declared at the outset of Tropical Storm Harvey a month ago.
The city will temporarily close Main Street between 7th and 8th, behind city hall.
Two modular buildings will be placed there for an estimated 3 to 6 months to house the public works and code enforcement offices while their building is being cleared of mold.
Oubre said water was pushed in the back side of the building by 7th Street traffic.
The council also agreed to pay a $7.69 per cubic yard total disposal fee to Waste Management, which operates the the Newton County Landfill, the closest FEMA-approved “final debris destination.”