2017-08-10 / Front Page

City budget ranges widely

Dan Parker
News editor


An illustration shows what a children’s splash area will look like when it’s built next to the pool at Port Aransas Community Park. The feature is planned for a spot where a small playground is now. 
Courtesy illustration An illustration shows what a children’s splash area will look like when it’s built next to the pool at Port Aransas Community Park. The feature is planned for a spot where a small playground is now. Courtesy illustration From new playground equipment at Roberts Point Park to new positions at the police department, the 2017-18 budget that’s being considered by Port Aransas city officials funds a wide range of stuff.

Some of it will be paid for with property taxes, but most funding will come from a variety of other revenue sources such as the hotel occupancy tax, sales tax, golf cart permit fees, mixed beverage taxes, municipal court fines and building permits.

The city council has made a few tweaks to the proposed budget since staff presented it a few weeks ago, and additional changes still could be made before a final vote is held on Sept. 7.

The council is scheduled to meet at 5 p.m. on Thursday, Aug. 10, and the budget will be on the agenda then. Public comment will be accepted. The meeting will be in council chambers at City Hall, 710 W. Ave. A.


Ancel Brundrett Pier, at the north end of Station Street, needs a lot of maintenance work. The Port Aransas City Council is set to approve a city budget devoting $1,050,000 to major repairs on the pier. 
Staff photo by Dan Parker Ancel Brundrett Pier, at the north end of Station Street, needs a lot of maintenance work. The Port Aransas City Council is set to approve a city budget devoting $1,050,000 to major repairs on the pier. Staff photo by Dan Parker New slots

The proposed budget includes a few new employee positions. Two of the slots are for police. Each position would pay $62,380, including benefits, said Darla Honea, the city’s finance director.

The budget also calls for adding a custodian, with annual pay of $43,747, including benefits, and a nature preserve groundskeeper with the same pay.

Staff is proposing a 2.2 percent increase in the pay scale for some of the city’s civilian employees and pay steps of 3 percent for employees who have been employed longer than six months. Employees who have reached the maximum pay for their job classifications won’t get raises.

The police officer pay structure has a cost-of-living adjustment of 2 percent.

Nature preserves

The city’s nature preserves budget was proposed to be $555,800, but the council has cut it some.

At a meeting on Aug. 1, the council decided to nix a staff request for automatic gates at the entrances to the Port Aransas Nature Preserve at Charlie’s Pasture. They would have cost a total of $28,450.

The council also decided against granting a staff request for installation of a concrete “vault” type of bathroom at the entrance to the nature preserve off State Highway 361. It would have cost $32,400. Instead, the city now is planning to bring in a portable restroom that complies with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

The council also slashed a $20,000 line item that would have provided nature preserve signs and maps.

Council member Joan Holt indicated she didn’t care much for the cuts.

“Every time we have a meeting, we nickel and dime the nature preserve to death,” she said.

The original amount still includes spending $75,000 on birding habitat restoration; $50,000 on a bollard extension to keep vehicles from entering the nature preserve along State Highway 361; more than $20,000 for furnishings for a new nature preserve office and visitors center; and $35,000 for a city truck for the preserve manager.

Money for nature preserve items comes from hotel occupancy tax revenue. The beach

The budget includes about $1.5 million for beach mainte- tenance. That includes cleaning the city’s several miles of beaches, managing sand with heavy equipment and more. Revenue to pay for all that comes from a mixture of sources including hotel occupancy tax revenue from the state, grant money from the Texas General Land Office and payments from Nueces County for maintaining county-owned portions of the beach.

Piers and docks

Some $1,050,000 is being set aside for major repairs to Ancel Brundrett Pier, at the foot of Station Street. The budget devotes $588,000 to major repairs at J.P. Luby Pier at Roberts Point Park. The piers are in need of a lot of maintenance due to general degradation caused by the elements. Along the same lines, a total of $258,000 is proposed for major repairs to Dock. No. 3 at the Dennis Dreyer Municipal Harbor. Money for the pier and dock repairs comes from hotel occupancy tax revenue. For fun The budget includes $115,000 for improvements to playground equipment at Roberts Point Park. The money will come from park dedication fees, which city hall charges when building permits are issued. The city’s Recreational Development Corporation is expected to provide $200,000 for construction of a new splash pad area next-door to the pool at Port Aransas Community Park. The 2,000-square-foot splash pad would be installed where a small playground is now, Honea said. Plans call for moving the playground closer to the park’s baseball fields. The RDC receives revenue from a half-cent sales tax levied on Port Aransas business customers to fund recreational facilities and services in the city with the overall goal of increasing economic activity, partly through tourism.

And more

The budget also provides for: • A new brush truck for the Port Aransas Volunteer Fire Department, at a cost of $184,000. The money will come from property taxes. • A new ambulance, which will be financed over a period of five years. The total cost of the vehicle will be $220,000, paid for with property taxes. • Repaving the Civic Center’s parking lot, at a cost of $197,000. Hotel occupancy tax revenue will pay for it.

Public comment

Citizens can speak their minds about the proposed budget and tax rate at a number of upcoming council meetings. In addition to the meeting scheduled for Thursday, Aug. 10, a public hearing on the proposed tax rate will be held on Thursday, Aug. 24.

Also during the Aug. 24 meeting will be a public hearing on the proposed budget. There also will be a public hearing then on the Recreational Development Corporation’s proposed budget.

Another public hearing on the proposed tax rate is scheduled for Aug. 31.

All of the meetings will be at 5 p.m. in council chambers.

City staff is proposing a tax rate of 28.0906 cents per $100 valuation, according to a written staff report. That’s a rise of .8715 of one cent above the current rate of 27.2191 cents – an increase of 8 percent over the effective rate.

The effective rate is the rate that would bring in the same amount of revenue as the previous year.

The proposed increase is a tiny bit lower than the amount that would allow for citizens to seek a property tax rollback election. It could be triggered by any rate higher than 8 percent.

Even if the tax rate doesn’t go up, a person can pay higher taxes if their property value goes up, as assessed by the Nueces County Appraisal District.

Total property values are at $2,280,393,836 – 9 percent more than last year’s value of $2,078,929,639, according to a city staff report.

Return to top