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News
League City pay competitive, but some jobs lag

LEAGUE CITY

Salaries for most League City government employees are competitive within surrounding cities, but compensation for some jobs lags behind the market, a recent study found.

Making those below-market jobs competitive would cost the city about $924,000, the study found.

The city council in April hired New York-based Segal Waters Consulting for $100,000 to determine whether city employees were paid enough or too much. Segal Waters also looked at job descriptions and recommended a few changes.

The study compared League City to Allen, Baytown, Bryan City, Dickinson, Friendswood, Galveston, Lewisville, Longview, Missouri City, Pearland, Richardson, Round Rock, Sugar Land, Texas City, Tyler and Webster.

While the city’s pay structure is mostly competitive, some classifications fell below the market and some were above it, according to the study.

The fire marshal position minimum salary is at 77 percent of the Houston-area market average, the lowest in the study.

Police minimum salaries are 107 percent of the market value, making those the most competitive of League City’s jobs.

The study recommends that the pay-raise promotion steps for police officers should be cut.

The study also looked at 50 job classifications and reviewed what jobs included supervisory duties and whether certain positions are exempt from overtime status.

Segal Waters chose 66 jobs to statistically represent all jobs, Ruth Ann Eledge, vice president and senior consultant, said.

The city has about 700 employees, city staff said.

The 66 jobs chosen represent 25 departments and all levels, from entry level to manager level. This sample represented 69 percent of the employees and 33 percent of the job titles, Eledge said.

Of those 66 jobs, 27 are below market and 12 are above market, she said.

“In general, the city’s pay policies and practices are similar to peer employers,” Eledge said.

Segal Waters looked at entry level, midpoint and maximum pay for the jobs in the sample.

City Manager John Baumgartner proposed cutting two steps for police promotion. Under the present structure, it takes a police officer 19 years to top out at the highest salary, he said. Other cities allow police officers to top out in 12 years or less, he said.

The study also factored in data from the Dallas-Fort Worth and Austin areas, Councilman Nick Long said. League City employee salaries could be lagging behind those markets, Long said.

“We are beating most of the cities in the Houston area,” Long said. “You could make the case it’s much cheaper to live here.”

Segal Waters will come back to the city council to show the aggregate of the Houston area only.

The city council would have to vote to approve pay increases for those jobs below market. That would mean fixing inequities in the future to balance out those salaries that, at present, are above market, Long said.

“Obviously, we don’t want to bring people down from where they are at,” he said.


News
Judge OKs $1.4 million in Magnolia Creek refunds

GALVESTON

Magnolia Creek property owners awaiting refunds after being overcharged for Public Improvement District fees soon will get their money.

Judge Lonnie Cox of the 56th District Court made a final judgment Tuesday to disburse the refunds that total almost $1.4 million for people who owned residential property in the League City development.

The Texas 14th Court of Appeals in April remanded civil litigation involving the refunds back to the 56th District Court and suggested how League City should make the refunds.

The appeals court recommended making the refunds proportional to the time previous and existing property owners paid assessments. And, on Tuesday, the district court finalized how it would do that, according to court records.

The appeals court took the case after Cox ruled in March 2015 that the city should refund money to the existing owners of lots in the subdivision who were overcharged.

Cox had to decide whether to allow the property owners in March 2015 to get the refunds or whether it should go to all property owners who at one time owned land and overpaid assessments.

649 CLAIMS FILED

Determining who owned which piece of property at which time complicated the city’s efforts to refund the right people. The city got more than 649 claims on 319 properties, then asked the court to help sort it out in a 2014 legal action. Some of the claimants never even owned the over-assessed lots.

Cox ruled that the existing deed holders should get the refunds, but the appeals court declared the refunds should be proportionate to the time property owners owned the land and were overcharged.

In 2013, League City decided to reimburse homeowners in phases 1 and 2 of the Magnolia Creek subdivision because development costs were over assessed and because of an accounting error.

The city created Public Improvement District No. 1 in 1997 to develop Magnolia Creek, which is on the southwest side of the city, and levied an assessment on the homeowners — based on square footage of the property — to pay the developer for improvements.

Homeowners paid those assessments to the public improvement district, which the city administers, during the span of 15 years.

COST ASSESSMENTS

The cost assessments were overestimated, city staff said.

In 2001, the city levied an assessment of $1.32 per square foot for phase 1 of the subdivision. In 2002, the city levied an assessment of $1.68 per square foot for homes in phase 2 of the subdivision.

Those estimated costs were based on the city having to issue bonds, which it never did, city staff said.

The actual cost of development for the two phases was less than the amount assessed.

OVERPAYMENTS

The developer, Mag Creek LP, sold its investment in 2002 to two other entities, MHI Partnership and Andrew Delaney.

Because of an accounting error, the calculation of what was owed to Delaney was overstated. This miscalculation came to the city’s attention in 2010, then-City Manager Mike Loftin told the city council in May 2013.

The city overpaid the Delaney family about $1.4 million, Loftin said.

The Daily News reported in May 2013 that the Delaney Marital Trust would return about $1.4 million to the city. Those funds, as well as the balance of the 2012 assessment collections, will be refunded to property owners based upon the square footage of property owned.

The city in 2014 filed the interpleader petition in Cox’s court. In an interpleading procedure, a court determines the ownership rights of rival claimants to the same money or property.