Editor's note: This story was revised to better clarify which employees would be eligible for the proposed pay raises.

LA MARQUE — La Marque is proposing a $17 million budget for the coming fiscal year that includes an across-the-board pay increase for longtime city employees. 

Council members got their first look at the proposed budget, which is about $1 million less than the fiscal year 2014 budget, Thursday. 

While the budget cuts costs, it also includes about $150,000 for a 3 percent raise for non-collective bargaining employees who have been with the city for more than two years. Police officers and firefighters are the city's only collective bargaining employees and their pay is based on their contracts.

About 50 city employees could see a raise if the budget is approved, City Manager Carol Buttler said.

The budget also includes funds to hire some new employees to refill positions that had been cut in previous years, Buttler said. 

And the budget includes about $267,000 in funding for the library.

The city needs to keep a certain amount of funding for the library to keep it from losing its state accreditation. 

“What’s in here now is a good faith maintenance of effort,” Buttler said. 

The City Council will hash out the details of the budget in a series of workshops next week, but on Thursday they unanimously approved keeping the tax rate at 51.436 cents per $100 of taxable value. 

The effective tax rate, the rate needed to raise the same amount of revenue with the new appraisal values, would be slightly smaller at 51.0530 cents per $100 of taxable value, according to the proposed budget. 

The average taxable value of a resident’s homestead in La Marque in 2014 was $87,108, up nearly $3,000 from 2013, according to the Galveston County Tax Office. 

Adopting the effective tax rate would have saved a homeowner about $3 in yearly taxes. 

The proposed budget states that the city will raise almost $94,000 more in property taxes than last year’s budget but the majority, nearly $70,000, comes from new property added to the tax roll. 

Buttler said department budgets are staying flat and the city is building up its reserve fund while finding ways to pay for things such as the pay increase. 

The city’s sales tax revenue remains strong, and Buttler said they were able to use that to pay for the raise. 

“We’ve had enough increase in the sales tax from Sam’s (Club) that there’s enough there to absorb those costs,” she said. 

There are some things that the city will still need to figure out how to pay for. 

Buttler said large one-time expenses and capital improvement projects were pulled out from the general fund budget and will need to be dealt with separately when the council can find the funds for them. 

There are about $240,000 in large, one-time expenses for things such as a new generator, minor remodeling at City Hall and other repairs, according to the budget. 

There are also about $1.8 million in general fund and utility fund capital projects, which include new playground equipment, street and sidewalk repairs, and sewer line repairs, among many other projects, according to the budget. 

The city will need to either find new revenues, which could include a loan or a bond sale, or use revenue surplus to pay for these high-dollar expenses, Buttler said. 

Those are decisions the council will need to make down the road, but for now the city is in good a position, she said. 

Mayor Bobby Hocking agreed and said the city was in good shape financially. 

“We are not where we’re going to be,” he said. “We are not where we want to be, but we are sure as heck not where we use to be.” 

 


At a Glance 

Proposed fiscal year 2015 budget: $17,230,593

Tax rate: 51.436 cents per $100 of taxable value.

 Effective tax rate (rate needed to raise the same amount of revenue with the new appraisal values): 51.0530 cents per $100 of taxable value

 

Budget Workshop schedule: The council will meet from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Wednesday to work out the 2014-15 budget. The council can also meet Thursday and Friday if needed to continue working on the budget. 

 

Contact reporter Christopher Smith Gonzalez at 409-683-5314 or chris.gonzalez@galvnews.com

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(6) comments

Robert Buckner

A little bit of good news about LM for a change

Jake Feigle

If you attended or watched the Council meetings you would know that ex councilman, James Osteen, saved the city thousands of dollars by citing mistakes that were given to council members by City Manager Carol Butler. Even the $400.00 that Mayor Hocking returned to the city for a meeting in Houston , helps.
But with Mr. Osteen not being on the council who will now be the watchdog now? It can't be Council woman Trube. The kangaroo court has made her ineffective. The rest of the council no longer listens to her. CLEAT, Mayor Hocking, and City Manager Carol Butler got what they wanted. They have gotten rid of Osteen, and made Trube ineffective.

JBG JBG

Booo-Hoooo, Whine....whine......whine....,you cannot make the Council listen to Ms. Trube and nobody should listen to you either! Say, weren't you one of those parking lot JOKE TELLERS?
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Keep going LM Council, yall are doing good! Don't pay Earlybird no attention. He and JBG are from way back yonder in the days of "BULL CONNERS!" He wants to be a Shot-Caller! He probably dreams about it at night! Keep going and bring LM back! Many of us appreciate the job yall are doing.
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Let me say something else while I'm talking! I never felt bad about criticizing somebody's job performance when merited, but when they do something good, I think an individual ought to have enough integrity, and character, to set aside politics and tell that individual(s) they are doing good,...but that's just me! Let me use as an example,...the two posters below. Both have been critical of the City of LM in the past, and so have I, but notice that one poster was honest enough to say, good job LM, and the other one seems as if he has a political agenda working! Nuff said. Take that in account in future posts please.

Jake Feigle

JBG, you are wrong. Until about 6 months ago, I had nothing but praise for t\he council Especially had praise for Councilman Osteen., Mayor Hocking, and City Manager, Butler. But that began to change about 6 months ago..
At first I thought that these were only mistakes, and everyone will make mistakes. But the mistakes continued. If you attended the Council meetings you would have seen the many times Mr.. Osteen addressed issues with the Mayor and the City Manager.. Council woman Trube also began to find some of the mistakes that the City Manager presented to the Council. In many cases Mrs. Butler did not have the answers, and had to request more time to correct the mistakes. We are talking about issues that amounted to thousands of dollars on each issues.. No doubt in my mind that the Mayor and the City Manager are glad that Mr. Osteen is gone. And the kangaroo court made Mrs. Trube a tiger without teeth. And yes, JBG, I was one of them that was telling jokes. And that is just what they were. JOKES. There was no racism in our jokes. We made jokes about just about every race and even priest and ministers. But they were JOKES..

Robert Buckner

JBG, my comment today was sincere but so were my past comments that were of a negative nature as well. Jake, every councilman/woman should be good stewards of taxpayer's funds, including the city manager, dept. heads, and employees. All of ya'll have a nice weekend!

Jake Feigle

The present homeowners, and the future homeowners of La Marque would be better served if Council would decide to drop the tax rate by 1 cent. The amount saved by home owners may seem too small to make a difference, but to a person on a fixed income it could be a help. If you do not reduce the rate it will mean the taxa burden will go up by that amount. That would be like the Council voting for a tax increase.. That would hurt fixed income families. Think about this. If the taxes are raised to home owners because Council fails to reduce by 1 cent, I doubt if it would be not be hard to gest signatures for a recall for any council member that refused to do same.

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