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Galveston County
Galveston City Council Workshop
by Garrett Bryce
Friday, July 21, 2017

Galveston City Council on Thursday held a workshop to discuss the city's proposed FY2018 Budget and its Capital Improvement Plan.

“Not a lot of fluff, not a lot of fun in this budget, but a lot getting done,” City Manager Brian Maxwell said of the proposed budget for the upcoming fiscal year. Listen (48:53) (Note: Meeting recordings begin in progress.)

Topics when discussing the budget and CIP varied, but included matters such as Galveston's Island Transit service.

“Island Transit is the bigger problem in this year's budget,” Maxwell said, noting that contributions from the city's General Fund total $800,000.

He said that the city is meeting with the University of Texas Medical Branch for routes including the Victory Lakes route regarding the possibility of UTMB funding more of the costs of the route.

“We're almost subsidizing people who live off the island, and that's counter-intuitive to what we wanted to accomplish with that route,” he said.

He also discussed issues with the route serving the Port of Galveston's parking lots.

Mayor Jim Yarbrough noted the impact of sales taxes on the city's tax make-up. Maxwell stated that sales tax offsets approximately 11 cents that would otherwise be levied through property taxes.

“I know we all hear complaints from the residential public that we spend all this money on the tourist side of things, and HOT tax and some of those things are restrictive, but I do think we need to do a better job explaining that tourists do spend a lot of that sales tax,” Yarbrough said. “Not all of it, because our residents pay sales tax, too.”

Discussions also included water costs.

“Water is not going to get cheaper, it is not going to go down, and we cannot sell it for less than we pay for it,” Maxwell said, noting that the city utilizes 20 million gallons of water per day during the weekend.

Yarbrough noted the impact of cruise ships on the water supply.

“Those cruise ships come in here and they suck a lot of your water out of here, and we scramble all night trying to fill those tanks back up so you'll have fresh water in the morning,” Yarbrough said, stating that other developments, such as high rises and condominiums, also would impact the city's water levels. “Water is going to be a limiting factor on what we can do with new opportunities, because we're just not going to have enough.”

Maxwell stated that the city could efficiently build out the island with its current conservation methods, but that major changes will be needed for the region, not just the city, for how water is provided.

The city council will discuss the budget again in its workshop on July 27.

For a video of the meeting, Click Here

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