Recently the National League of Cities issued their Fiscal Conditions Report for Cities across the nation and one startling finding was that revenue growth “stalled” last year and the trend is continuing, creating real problems for City Budgets.
While the economy has remained healthy why are so many Cities experiencing revenue growth stagnation or even declines ?
The report noted that property taxes have largely stayed stable but sales tax has leveled off or declined in many Cities and this has been true of many Cities in Texas.
Some other reasons that Cities’ revenues have been decreasing has been that people are putting ever more money into savings as opposed to spending it on taxable items. This coupled with the aging of the population who are less likely to be making purchases and Cities putting more into their various pension plans, revenue stagnation may be a phenomenon that may be with us for awhile.
Here in Galveston our City seems to be bucking these trends. Sales tax is still continuing to rise and financial liabilities that were left unattended for so many years have now been addressed.
The Budget for this year includes funding the pension plans to bring them into acceptable ranges, addressing rising Health Insurance costs and closing out the CDM law suit.
All of these measures were done, while at the same time, maintaining an operating budget that supports a continuing effort to improve the quality of life for all our residents.
Yes, Galveston’s Financial Health is doing well and it is more important than ever to spend wisely, maintain adequate reserves, and remember that with improvements comes the need to fund the future maintenance of these projects.
Wishing you a Prosperous and Productive New Year !
Craig and Angela
IT'S CAMPAIGN KICK-OFF TIME!
Please join us as we officially kick-off our Mayoral Campaign on January 9th in the Conservatory at The Bryan Museum from 6 pm to 7:30 pm. CLICK HEREfor more information and to RSVP. Angela and I are excited about this journey and ready to WIN!
No, it is not a figment of your imagination. The Rail Trolleys are coming back soon. There are just a few companies in the United States that restore Historic Trolleys and our Rail Trolleys have been at Gomaco Restoration in Iowa undergoing extensive repairs and restoration.
Because of the salt water damage the Trolleys are basically being rebuilt from the ground up. CLICK HERE for the status report concerning the Trolleys. Barring any other unforeseen occurrences we should see a Galveston Rail Trolley chugging down the tracks by this summer.
Royal Caribbean Cruise Terminal
At the December 11th Wharves Board Meeting the Board Approved the contract with Royal Caribbean for the construction of a new Royal Caribbean funded 100 million dollar Cruise Terminal at Pier 10.
When finished in November of 2021, this new Cruise Terminal and it’s associated Parking is forecasted to produce approximately 8-9 million dollars net revenue to the Port annually. CLICK HERE for more detailed specifics of the contract.
Port of Galveston
The Port has been extremely busy recently and this increased activity should be even more so in 2020.
The following are just a few of the projects moving forward. For more details of all the activities please CLICK HERE for the Port Director’s Report for December.
Master Plan: At the Wharves Board Meeting on December 17th the Port’s Master Plan was approved. This plan will serve as a road map for the future development of the Port with the eastern section evolving into more of a Cruise Related area and the western section relegated to more cargo related activities. Of course, this is a document that will change with the times and amendments to the Plan may take place in the future.
Traffic Study: With the development of Pier 10 into Cruise Terminal #3 the question of traffic comes into question. In response to this the Port has commissioned a separate Traffic Study designed to make recommendations concerning traffic flow. The initial thoughts are to have traffic entering Port property at 33rd Street and then traveling to the Cruise Terminals. The Traffic Study recommendations are scheduled to be completed by April 1st.
City Payment: Following the approval of the Royal Caribbean Contract for Cruise Terminal #3, the Wharves Board and City Council approved an agreement for payment to the City. Once Cruise Terminal #3 is operational the City will receive fifty cents per passenger annually with a minimum payment of $300,000 or greater depending on the number of passengers. To view the Agreement please CLICK HERE.
Civilian Review Board
At Council’s December 12th meeting the City’s Civilian Review Board’s ( CRB ) operations we’re temporarily suspended until the operations can be reviewed to make sure they are in keeping with the recent changes in State Law.
Council has been reviewing every Committee of the City to ensure their functions are supported by Local or State Law and the CRB, which serves as an advisory board to the Chief of Police, will be reinstated in the next few months, once any changes are made.
Park Board/Cruise Industry
In response to the increasing number of Cruise Passengers on the Island, in June of 2019, the Park Board established a Cruise Task Force as a part of their Tourism Development Advisory Committee.
Their charge was to research the impact the Cruise Industry has on the community and develop recommendations that will help the Park Board leverage these visitors to benefit Tourism activities and overnight hotel stays as well as provide a mechanism for the Park Board to establish better communication with the Port and Cruise Lines.
The recommendations are a giant step forward in developing a partnership with the City and Port to structure a unified approach to this growing industry on the Island.
To view the findings of the Task Force please CLICK HERE.
Tax Increment Reinvestment Zones ( TIRZ )
On December 12th Council voted unanimously to close TIRZ 12 and 14.
These two TIRZs, established in the early 2000s, represented the areas at 61st Street - Interstate 45 and Evia - Scholes Airport, respectively.
At that time the Galveston Island Redevelopment Authority ( RDA ) was also established to oversee the operation of the TIRZ.
The closure will also allow each taxing entity’s incremental tax revenue to be reclaimed and made a part of its general property tax levy for reallocation as determined by City Council, Commissioner’s Court and the Navigation District.
CLICK HERE for specific details of the TIRZ closures.
Redevelopment Authority Changes
At the December meeting of the RDA the Mayor and myself attended and presented to the RDA an amended organizational statement. This amended statement, which was approved by the RDA, moves the tasks of the RDA away from concentrating only on operational issues of the TIRZ to becoming a true Economic Development Arm of the City. This allows the RDA to address issues such as providing affordable housing to serving as an interface for recommendations from Vision Galveston.
These changes were brought to Council for approval at their December 12th Meeting and further discussion will take place on approving these changes at subsequent Council meetings.
Periodically throughout the year the City receives donations from various Philanthropic Organizations to support City Activities. Recently the Moody Foundation donated to the building of a Park at the site of the City Annex Building.
At Council’s December 12th Meeting the Houston’s Jewish Community Foundation donated $20,000 for the purchase of Drone Technology and Better Parks for Galveston donated $15,000 for New Computer Equipment at Wright Cuney Recreation Center.
Thank you to these organizations for their generous gifts, which assists the City and ultimately the entire community in upgrading the quality of life for all of us
Honorary Consul to Malawi
The Bryan Museum announced that Jordan Price, the Museum’s Director of Marketing & Membership, received his Letters of Commission from the Government of the Republic of Malawi as the Honorary Consul in Texas at an investiture ceremony at Malawi’s Embassy in Washington, D.C.
Mr. Price is Malawi’s first Honorary Consul in the United States, though both countries have enjoyed positive diplomatic relations since 1964.
Congratulations to Jordan and the Bryan Museum !
City Manager Report
January 1st is a time for making those New Year Resolutions. I know at the top of your list is reading the City Manager Report each month. So don’t worry, you can start the New Year off right with the latest addition of the Report. CLICK HERE.
City Council Snippets
City Makes Changes to 45th Street Construction Schedule to Assist Business Owners and Residents
Council Approves the City Hiring an Outside Attorney for the Downtown Event Lawsuit.
Council Approves a New Dog Park on the West End
Complete Count Committee ( Census Committee ) Term Extended to April 30, 2020
Council Approves New Gymnasium Floor For Wright Cuney Recreation Center
Nick Barbee Re-elected as Chairman of the Cultural Arts Commission
Port to Ask for Funds From the IDC for Refurbishing The Walkway From Cruise Terminals to Shearn Moody Parking Garage