Katy moves forward with new trash service, discusses tax rate

By R. Hans Miller | News Editor
Posted 8/28/20

Katy City Council met virtually via a Zoom teleconference for their regular Aug. 24 meeting at 4 p.m. During the meeting the council received an update on rollout of the city’s new trash …

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Katy moves forward with new trash service, discusses tax rate

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Katy City Council met virtually via a Zoom teleconference for their regular Aug. 24 meeting at 4 p.m. During the meeting the council received an update on rollout of the city’s new trash service through Texas Pride, reviewed options for a proposed tax rate for the city and scheduled public hearings for the city’s proposed budget and tax rate for the coming year.

Solid waste

Kevin Atkinson of Texas Pride said the company was coordinating with the city and Republic Services – the outgoing waste disposal services vendor – to roll out new trash and recycle bins to residents. The process as of Monday was about 72% complete in regard to trash cart delivery and the company had passed out 14,000 bins to residents as of Aug. 23. Republic Services’ dumpsters were set to be removed Wednesday and Thursday of this week, though Hurricane Laura may impact that, he said.

Final removal for Republic Services’ trash bins will be Sept. 7 and only the northernmost portion of the city near or north of Franz Road will see a gap in service that week as part of the transition. Texas Pride will save residents money in comparison to the quoted price from Republic Services. With adjustments for the cost of the surety bond, a trash bin will cost $13.15 per month compared to $14.50 from Republic Services under that company’s bid.

The new solid waste agreement was approved July 20.

Taxing understanding

City Council also set multiple public hearings regarding the city’s finances. The first is a hearing to allow residents to provide feedback on the city’s proposed property tax rate at 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 14. The second is set for 4 p.m. on Monday, Sept. 28 and will allow residents to provide feedback on the city’s proposed 2020-21 fiscal year budget.

Property taxes were a topic of lengthier than usual discussion among council members as City Finance Director Andrew Vasquez and Katy’s General Counsel Art Pertile, III explained how tax rates are set under the Texas Property Tax Reform and Transparency Act of 2019 – colloquially referred to as Senate Bill 2.

Vasquez said the city has multiple options under the new bill, especially with the emergency declarations set in place by Texas Governor Greg Abbott and the city’s population being less than 30,000 allow the council some flexibility in deciding on a final tax rate. The city, could look at a variety of options Vasquez said, including setting a rate that allows new revenue at 8% rather than the standard 3.5% under the law.

Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harris said the options would both lower the actual property tax rate from the current $0.4800 per $100 valuation.

At the 8% new income level it would bring in about $398,0000 in additional revenue for the city, Vasquez said. Council member Janet Corte and Harris pointed out that, while setting the higher of the two discussed options would reduce tax bills less, they would also provide revenue that would help the city move forward with drainage projects the city might otherwise have to postpone.

Pertile said the city could qualify for the 8% property tax revenue increase; however, he advised caution because the law is new and Abbott’s office, the Tex. Attorney General’s Office and the Tex. Comptroller of Public Accounts Office had all failed to issue opinions on the exemptions offered in S.B. 2.

City Administrator Byron Hebert said that he and his staff were set to propose a balanced budget for the city regardless of which option council members decided upon for the coming year and praised city staff for their hard work during difficult economic times.

City Council will hold a workshop on the tax rate during a special meeting Aug. 28 at 2 p.m. via virtual conferencing.

Other actions:

  • Approved refunding bonds for the Katy Development Authority in the amount of $8 million.
  • Authorized an agreement with Si Environmental, LLC for emergency utility services at the city’s wastewater plant and related infrastructure.
  • Authorized a software upgrade contract with IDEMIA Identity & Security USA for the Katy Police Department.
  • Terminated an interlocal agreement with Fort Bend County to provide fire protection services to portions of unincorporated Fort Bend County.

The city was scheduled to have a special meeting Aug. 28 at 2 p.m. to consider adopting the tax rate and budget, but that meeting has been cancelled by the mayor as it was deemed unnecessary after a budget workshop held the day prior, Mayor Pro Tem Chris Harris said. The matter will likely be taken up again and finalized Sept. 14 at the next regular Katy City Council meeting.

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