Council proposes 1-cent tax increase

Proposed raises declined by council members

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The Sealy City Council adopted a proposed 1-cent tax increase as it prepares to finalize the 2019-2020 budget.

“Staff is recommending that we go the full amount we’re allowed to before we go to rollback elections,” Director of Finance Steven Kutra said to the council at the Aug. 20 meeting.

He said the proposed rate is $.39907, which is up from last year’s rate of $.38667.

“We aren’t looking for adoption, we’re looking for a consensus of what tax rate you want to go with so that we can publish our notices, schedule public hearings,” Kutra said.

In a roll call vote, the proposed rate was adopted unanimously, although Councilwoman Jennifer Sullivan was absent.

Public hearings on the rate will be held in council chambers at city hall at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, Sept. 11, and Tuesday, Sept. 17.

City council raises

The council considered giving itself a raise of between $50 and $75 a month but in the end declined to do it.

“This body hasn’t had an increase in 13 years,” City Manager Lloyd Merrell said.

The raises were first proposed two weeks ago but tabled so Merrell could find comparable city council salaries. Having just approved a proposed tax increase, council members appeared very reluctant to vote for a raise.

“I didn’t run for the money that it pays,” said Councilman Larry Koy. “The money I receive pretty well covers a big bottle of aspirin. I’m satisfied with what I’m making.”

“I’m happy with what we get,” added Councilwoman Dee Anne Lerma.

Councilmembers are compensated $275 a month and the mayor $450.

The proposal for the raises died for lack of a motion.

Grant projects

Joy Rice of Public Management, Inc., gave the council an update on several grant projects. She said the city is under contract for a $2 million grant related to the 2016 Tax Day Flood.

“That is going to be doing drainage work along Front Street. Right now, you have a contract in place and engineering and design are taking place and the environmental review is under way,” she said.

She said the city has an application submitted to the Texas Department of Agriculture for a sanitary sewer project.

“That one I can tell you looks like it is in funding range,” Rice said. “We’ve got preliminary scores from the Department of Agriculture … and it looks like you should be awarded that grant.”

She said the council is also prepared to apply for a Hurricane Harvey infrastructure grant, which the council approved right after she spoke. She noted that there are other Harvey-related grant opportunities coming and she will keep the council informed as they develop.

New nursing home

The council approved the master plat and final plat for the Lazarus and PMI nursing home project. Originally proposed at 64-unit nursing and assisted living facility, it is now a 16-unit nursing home. The plats have now been approved by both the planning commission and city council.

Economic development update

Sealy Economic Development Corporation Executive Director Robert Worley gave a quarterly update on a project the EDC is working on. Using code names due to confidentiality concerns, he said Project Wing Tips, an industrial project, is moving forward. He also said Sealy is in the running for a “very large” project.

“I don’t think in my 40-year career that I’ve worked with one with this many employees,” he said.

He said the two main things they are looking for are incentives and rooftops.

“I think we can do OK with incentives,” he said, adding that he can show that there are housing developments on the books that haven’t started yet.

He said Project R has been put on hold while Interstate 10 remains under construction because of a road that will need to be built. Another one close by, Project Q, is smaller and can move forward.

Worley said Harvest Moon Apartments is about ready to break ground, as is the Dove Landing development.

In other action:

* The council approved updates to the Sealy Personnel Policies and Procedures Manual;

* Heard a monthly financial report by Director of Finance Steven Kutra, who reported that the city now has a 102-day reserve, which is up from 26 days in 2016;

* Adopted a financial management policy;

* Approved a resolution for the Sealy Economic Development Corporation to spend no more than $9,000 for a Main Street Program project;

* Amended the schedule of fees for storm water detention capacity (currently at $15,000 per acre foot);

* Appointed John Williamson to the Sealy Parks Board; and

* Passed a resolution authorizing the Texas Municipal League Multistate Intergovernmental Employee Benefits Pool the power to negotiate and engage in settlement discussions with the IRS regarding a late filing.

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