Trash Pickup Fees Will Increase Next Year

October 13, 2009

Next year residents will pay 34 percent more for trash pickup, partly because the economy has caused a decline in revenues from the city’s recycling program.

City Finance Director Rhonda Daugherty on Monday explained that in 2010, monthly rates will be $10.75 plus tax for seniors, and the regular rate will be $21.20 plus tax. Part of the fee hike is because West U must pay a higher rate from the City of Houston.

Daugherty presented the new figures at public hearings on the 2010 tax rate and budget on Monday, but the room was quiet during the public comment section of the program because no residents showed up.

The city expects to bring in more tax revenue in 2010 even though the city council voted Sept. 24 to actually lower the tax rate — last year it was 35.9 cents per $100 valuation, and this year it will be 35.8 cents.

The reason the city still expects an increase is because property values in West University Place rose by 7.6 percent. The city will have total taxable values of $4.2 billion, compared to $3.9 billion last year.

“As individuals, if you want to know how much your taxes are going up next year, just look at your HCAD appraisal,” said Councilman Chuck Guffey.

The city’s 2010 budget includes revenues of $27.5 million: 55 percent of that comes from property taxes, 31 percent comes from fees for services like water and sewer, and the rest comes from various fees or fines.

One factor affecting West U’s budget is a slowing of new home construction in the city. Last year, new construction added $58 million to West U’s appraised property tax rolls – a 2 percent increase that is a dramatic slowdown from previous years.

Planned expenditures for 2010 total $28.7 million. The Police, Fire and Public Works departments together require 65 percent of the city’s total expenditures. Personnel expenses among all city departments require 39 percent of total expenses.

The city’s 2010 payments for debt service will increase by about $308,000 compared to 2009. The payments go towards debt the city incurred from recent sidewalks projects, a small portion of the debt from the recreation facilities construction, and other capital projects. Another increase came from 3 percent raises for city employees, which brings their salaries up to market standards recommended by a consulting company that the city hired.

“I think the public is really smart. I don’t think they expect to get something for nothing,” said Councilman George Boehme. “I think this is a great budget and I’m happy to vote for it.”

Another public hearing on the tax rate takes place on Oct. 19, and the city council will vote on the budget by Oct. 26.

InstantNewsWestu Staff

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