City’s tax base down $8 million
Preliminary estimates show the Port Aransas tax base has dropped about $8 million over the past year, and that will mean the city will have to find ways to deal with a shortfall in revenue, City Manager Michael Kovacs said.
The Nueces County Appraisal District has informed the city that projections show the city will have an estimated tax base of about $1,376,491,698, said Darla Honea, finance director for the city of Port Aransas. That’s about $8.2 million less than last year’s base of $1,384,715,321.
That will directly cost the city about $21,193 in tax revenue for the maintenance and operations side of the budget, Honea said. But there are “no plans” to cut any city employees’ positions, Kovacs said.
Asked if the shortfall could affect city services, Kovacs said, “our primary focus will be making no noticeable service cuts. … We want to focus on things we can do better internally.”
The shortfall is one of the matters expected to come up when the Port Aransas City Council holds a budget workshop and priorities/strategies session on Tuesday, June 16. The meeting begins at 9 a.m. at the Port Aransas Community Center and is expected to last to 5 p.m. The session is open to the public.
The shortfall “is kind of a good opportunity for us to work smarter and look at what we’ve done the past five years, streamline operations evaluate different programs we’ve started, evaluated different staff positions and reorganize in certain ways, maybe looking at work flow again,” Kovacs said. “I’ll propose some little changes. They won’t be major changes, though.”
Just what those changes will be haven’t been decided.
“I would say the entire city budget is up for review at this point,” Kovacs said. “That would be every vehicle we own, every position, everything we spend our money on.”
The biggest problem with not having more revenue than last year lies with the various insurance policies the city maintains, Kovacs said. The city is trying to upgrade its flood insurance coverage, and there are rate increases for health insurance and other coverage to deal with, he said.
On the other hand, the city is seeing some savings in its road construction program financed through bonds, Kovacs said. In April, the financial research firm of Standard & Poor’s raised the city’s bond rating to double A minus, which is expected to save the city thousands of dollars in bond payments.
The process of compiling a budget will run through July and August. The city council is expected to adopt a budget in early September.