Longview, TX — City Manager David Willard proposed a $149.8 million municipal budget Thursday that includes rate hikes up to 25 percent for some Longview utility customers, 3 percent pay raises for employees and an already approved voter-approved tax rate increase.
The rate hikes could mean average monthly water bills would rise between 3 percent and 8 percent per customer.
Willard is proposing no maintenance tax or sanitation rate increase. Increased property values that are up 1.77 percent across the city coupled with more sales tax revenue could mean an additional $800,000 in city coffers.
The proposal represents a 2.7 percent, or $3.9 million, spending increase from the current year. About one-fourth of the increase is attributed to higher debt service payments after voters approved a $52.6 million streets bond package in May that will increase taxpayers’ debt rate by 0.0169.
“In preparing this budget proposal for you, we have kept the following goals in mind: budget conservatively, remain fiscally responsible, reduce costs through the budget when possible, and continue to provide quality services to the citizens, especially in the core areas of public safety and public works, while not raising taxes,” Willard told council members.
The council could adopt the budget as early as Aug. 25, when a public hearing on Willard’s proposal will be held at 5:30 p.m. at City Hall, 300 W. Cotton St.
Longview utility rates for its more than 30,000 customers had remained unchanged between 2007 and 2010. This past year, however, the city raised rates for customers with 5/8-inch and 1-inch water meters.
This year, Willard wants to keep starting rates for 5/8-inch customers unchanged. For other customers, it is a different story. Increases range from nearly $5 a month for 1-inch meters — common in most new homes — to $140 for 8-inch customers.
While the rate increases amount to between 22 percent and 26 percent, average monthly bills will increase between $1 and $25, or about 3.5 percent to 7.5 percent.
Read the full story here.