The Tomball City Council passed the proposed 2012-13 budget 3-2, during a regular session Aug. 6. Council members Derek Townsend and Mark Stoll voted no on the proposed budget.
City Manager George Shackelford explained the budget process and how staff members came up with the estimates.
“Obviously this year we are collecting more in sales tax revenue than we projected, but things happen so we wanted to be conservative with our estimates,” he said.
The budget process includes three major funds. The general fund provides for day-to-day operations of the city and its departments, the enterprise funds are revenues collected for water, sewer and gas services, while the debt service fund is the fund that pays off city debt like bonds.
The city is expecting about $16.3 million in revenues for the general fund and projects to spend about $15.5 million of that next fiscal year. Thos funds include about $20,000 designed to send all council members and some members of the Sister City organization to Telgte, Germany, for the sister city’s anniversary celebration. Townsend and Stoll took issue with that.
“I feel that council needs to reconsider this,” Stoll said. “The Tomball Sister City Organization is a separate organization which does not fall under the City of Tomball’s control. They do not need the taxpayer’s assistance (to send their members to Germany).”
Stoll went on to say that he would support the city paying the airfare for the mayor and city manager, so that they can represent Tomball at the event.
“Keep in mind that the council passed a 36 percent tax increase on taxpayers last year,” Stoll added. “How do you think this expense is being taken in their homes?”
“I received several phone calls and I’ve got to agree with Councilman Stoll,” he said.
Both Townsend and Stoll said they could not approve of the budget with that expense in it.
In other business, the council approved spending $36,000 to purchase several pieces of property along Elm Street and also named Grady Martin, president of the Tomball Sister City Organization, as the 2012 Mayor’s Volunteer of the Year.
Martin was shocked by the announcement.
“Oh wow, this is a great honor, thank you so much,” he said.
Council also approved expenditures for several yearly events, including $12,000 in hotel-motel tax funds for the second annual Bugs, Brew and Barbeque event, $60,000 from the same fund for the annual Tomball German Christmas and the Tomball German Heritage festivals.
Council also approved a bid from TJ&T Enterprises of a little more than $210,000 to improve concrete streets within the city.
Finally council approved a two-year grant that will enable the fire department to hire nine more full-time firefighters.
There will be a final public hearing and vote on next year's budget, at the Aug. 20 meeting.