Tommy Mann Jr.

For The Record

City councilmembers approved the budget for the next fiscal year following two public hearings on Tuesday evening.

City leaders held two public hearings on Tuesday evening to allow citizens to address any concerns they might have with the proposed city budget and proposed ad valorem tax rate for 2016-2017.

The City of Bridge City’s proposed budget for the 2016-2017 fiscal year is slightly more than $8,934,000 which is an increase of $136,012 over the previous year’s budget.

This year’s budget includes includes the typical increases to services which consist of electricity, fuel and insurance costs for the city’s employees. It will also help the city to cover a three percent salary increase for all city employees and allow for the purchase of new vehicles for the police department, other departments and a trailer-mounted excavation unit.

Approximately $22,229 of the new budget figure is tax revenue to be raised from new property which has been added to the city’s tax roll this past year. The budget will also raise more total property taxes by $118,102 than the 2015-2016 city budget, an increase of 7.47 percent.

The City of Bridge City has proposed a new tax rate of $0.52000 per $100 valuation for the 2016-2017 fiscal year. According to information provided by the city, this is an increase of slightly more than two cents over the current tax rate of $0.49920 per $100 valuation.

For a home valued at $100,000, the taxes would increase approximately $20 per year to $520 compared to the previous amount of $499.20. An increase in individual property values could also increase the amount of taxes paid in comparison to the previous figure for each individual property.

Local resident Skipper Nixon was the only person to address council and speak out against the proposed tax rate increase.

“I’m retired from the (United States) Air Force and my wife draws her Social Security and we live on a fixed income,” Nixon said to council. “We received no increase in income for the year, but our (health) insurance went up $54 per month and our automobile insurance went up over $300 for the year.

“Those are just two examples of household expenses to our family that have gone up this year and doesn’t account for anything else,” he continued. “If things keep increasing, then we will have to find ways to cutback or else dip into our savings. So, I’m definitely against the tax rate increase at this time.”

No action was taken on the proposed tax rate because two public hearings are required by law before the proposed rate can be approved by council. A second public hearing has been scheduled at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 6, at City Hall, 260 Rachal Ave. in Bridge City.

At Tuesday’s meeting, councilmembers approved a resolution supporting a proposed project by The Rhoman Group, Inc. to build a skilled nursing facility in Bridge City.

At the July 20 meeting of city council, Jeff Rhodes, president of The Rhoman Group, Inc., addressed city council on the company’s plan to construct a sklled nursing facility in Orange County, or more likely, Bridge City, because there is no such facility in the community but a need had been determined.

The Rhoman Group, Inc., a Louisiana-based company, specializes in elder care facility acquisitions, dispositions and development. It also specializes in obtaining proper certification and licensing contracts for building new skilled nursing facilities and works with local, county and state officials, as well as builders, operators, capital and equity partners to bring new nursing facilities on line in local communities in need of such services.

Rhodes said the group has submitted its formal application to build the new facility with the Texas Department of Aging and Disabilities Services, which is a “very lengthy process.”

The group must also submit a demographic or health needs study, which would be prepared by an independent professional, as well as documentation of community support to the state.

The new ordinance asks authorities to strongly consider the application of the company as it continues the process of determining a potential location in the community for its estimated $9 million to $12 million project. If the plan goes forward, it would be required to be completed within 46 months.

Also part of the Tuesday’s meeting, council approved the recommendation from the city’s Planning and Zoning Commission to rezone a property on Center Street, located behind Market Basket, from an R-1 single family residential property to an R-2 low density property.

The purpose of the change is to allow for the construction of five duplexes, which will 10 units for occupancy.

“This change only allows for duplexes and not anything commercial,” said Jerry Jones, city manager of Bridge City. “So only family housing or duplexes can go in an R-2.”