The Record Newspapers - Hometown News For Orange County, Texas

By Margaret Toal
For the Record 

City of Orange going up on water bills in October

 

Last updated 9/20/2022 at 5:09pm

Residents in the city of Orange will see higher bills when they open their monthly water-sewer-garbage statements starting in October.

The city will have a 3 percent increase in water and sewer rates, plus garbage contractor Waste Management will increase its rates 10 percent.

Property owners in the city have a slight decrease for their tax rate for the new fiscal year, but they might pay more based on whether their property appraisals went up. An increase in property assessment might offset a lower tax rate.

The Orange City Council voted on the proposed rates and budget Tuesday evening during a special called meeting.

The city's garbage pickup contract with Waste Management allows the company to pass along rising fuel costs of diesel for the trucks. The contract also allows an increase for basic rates adjusted to the national Consumer Price Index.

City staff in a memo to council members said based on those figures, Waste Management could have asked for a total 14.8 percent rate increase. However, the city staff negotiated the rate increase to 10 percent.

The basic residential rate for single-family and individuals in apartments will now be $29.84 a month for one cart plus an additional $18.77 a month for each additional carts. Commercial and business costumers will pay $37.77 a month for a cart plus $25.77 cents each for additional carts.

The city's water and sewer department operates on a separate enterprise fund not related to the city's general operating budget. The water and sewer department does not use property taxes but operates on the income generated from selling water and charging for sewer services.

The city went five years without increasing rates, but last year the council agreed to pass on 3 percent rate increases each year for three years. City staff said the increase in rates was needed to help pay for repairs and replacements on aging pipes and equipment. Last year was the first 3 percent increase and this will be the second 3 percent increase.

The city's 2022-23 fiscal year will start October 1. The new tax rate will be 78.3 cents per $100 of property valuation. The current rate is 80.6 cents per $100 valuation.

Based on the increase in property values, as set by the separate Orange County Appraisal District, the city could have raised the same amount of money as last year with a rate of 72.7 cents per $100 valuation. That is known as the effective tax rate. The 78.3 cents per $100 valuation rate is considered a 7.57 percent tax rate using the effective tax rate figures.

The city of Orange does not generate the majority of its income from basic tax rates, but from industrial district contracts negotiated with manufacturing plants, including those in the petrochemical industry. The contracts are negotiated so the plants, which are outside the city limits, pay a fraction of the total tax rates they would pay within the city.

According to city statistics, the city raises 24 percent of its budget income from the industrial district contracts and 21 percent of its income from regular property taxes. Another 17 percent of the budget comes from sales taxes and other miscellaneous taxes.

The upcoming budget will include a 2.5 percent pay increase for all city employees. The police and fire departments have a collective bargaining union contract to that rate and city officials in recent years have worked to give all employees the same increase as those represented in unions.

 

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