Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

Orange city hits budget goal, plus

Orange's City Council approved a proposed balanced 2022 budget of $25 million Tuesday night, and members expressed delight that the city, under City Manager Mike Kunst, had set aside another $12 million as a reserve fund.

"I'm ecstatic we've hit the magic numbers we had discussed," Councilman Brad Childs told Kunst.

That led to council's approval of a three-year plan by Kuntz to spend down an extra $1.7 million left in the kitty. Kuntz proposed spending $700,000 in 2022 for big-ticket capital projects such as a half-dozen new Chevy Tahoes for the police department, and $500,000 each in 2023 and 2024 on other capital outlays.

Getting ahead in that manner, Kuntz suggested, could allow the city to lower the tax rate in the future.

Mayor Larry Spears Jr. emphasized the city's need to maintain its gains in serving and providing for its citizens.

"We've all been asking for growth and progress," Spears said. "Now that we have growth and progress, also comes the responsibility and accountability to make sure we have enough people to properly provide water and sewer, protection with the police and fire departments. We have to make sure we're prepared to keep all of that in order."

The council voted Aug. 10 not to raise the city's tax rate, by proposing a number that was the same as last year, 80.59 cents per $100 value. The final hearing for the budget is set for Aug. 24.

Kuntz' PowerPoint presentation on the proposed budget showed the city's general fund receiving about $9 million in revenues from Industrial District Contracts, $7.9 million from property taxes, $4.1 million from sales and other taxes with $2.5 million coming from other sources for $24,589,722 in revenues.

Proposed 2022 budget expenses included $16 million for wages and salaries, $7 million for maintenance and services and the remainder split between supplies, debt service and $655,000 in capital outlays for total expenditures of $24,724,936.

Possibility for capital outlays included $10,000 for an equine stable for animal control, $17,000 for books for the library, $118,000 for police vehicles, $43,000 for rescue equipment for the fire department, $12,500 for planning, $14,000 for new afire conditioning at the Bellfield Community Center, $53,000 for a gas generator for public works department, $80,000 to lease a new gradual with bucket, $108,000 for a new backhoe and $27,000 for 6th Street repairs.

Improvements for city parks were also on the wish list -- $70,000 to resurface the parking lot at Lions Den, $24,000 to repair sidewalk at Navy Park, $25,000 for numerous fixes at Memorial Field.

Kunst mentioned that a few already budgeted projects under way need to be completed. Construction of the Recreation Center should be complete in the spring of 2022, he said; with paving of the running track at Northway Park soon to begin; and drainage work at the Riverside Pavilion set to finish by Labor Day.

Water and Sewer fund adds about $8 million to the city's annual operation, though the cost is supposed to be borne by the users. Kunst pointed out the city had not raised its rates since 2014 and wants to address it with a four-year adjustment to the rates.

Rates would increase 4% for 2022, and 2% in each 2023, 2024 and 2025.


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