City council adopts budget, sets tax rate

west-u-logoTonight, after a long and laborious city council meeting, West University Place adopted an annual budget for 2017 and set a tax rate to fund that budget.

Before the budget’s adoption, the council entertained a half-dozen proposed budget amendments from Councilmember Brennan Reilly, all were rejected.

After the budget debate, the councilors adopted the budget and tax rate recommended by West U City Manager Chris Peifer. The vote on adopting the budget and tax rate was 4-1. Reilly voted no.

The adopted budget includes the funding for two more police officers and sets aside the monies necessary to pay for funding a minimum of two intersection surveillance camera systems. West U has 24 police officers, but the 2017 budget increases the police officer staffing to 26.

Peifer says hiring quality police officers may be difficult because the Dallas Police Department has a statewide recruiting effort for 600 additional officers and about 40% of the Houston Police Department’s officers are eligible for retirement.

The budget allocation for intersection surveillance camera systems is $200K which will fund at least two systems. The real cost will be the result of a competitive bidding process, which a majority of the city council said is a top priority.

Funding the intersection surveillance camera systems was a victory for Mayor Susan Sample. Sample has been advocating for surveillance cameras since early in the budget process. However, until tonight, her proposal did not seem to have the support of a majority of the city council.

But at tonight’s meeting, funding the intersection surveillance camera systems found a new follower in Mayor Pro Tem Bob Kelly. Kelly, an early skeptic of the idea, reversed his path and joined Sample and Councilmember Mardi Turner in supporting this funding proposal.

The adopted budget approves spending $43,307,947 in 2017 and fund it with a tax rate of 31.68 cents per $100 value; last year’s rate was 33.179 cents per $100 value. Because of the 7.79% increase in property values, this tax rate reduction still would result in a tax revenue increase. The new tax rate results in an average 1.8% increase in West U taxes for each homeowner or $8.44 per month.

George Boehme

George Boehme is the publisher of InstantNewsWestU.com and West University Essentials magazine.

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