COPPERAS COVE — City staff are continuing research on a transportation fee that could charge residents and businesses to maintain streets but lower property taxes.
“This is strictly research at this point,” said Ryan Haverlah, city budget director.
Haverlah on Tuesday led a workshop discussion about the city of Bryan’s transportation fee, which acts similar to Copperas Cove’s drainage fee.
Residents and businesses are charged the fee on a monthly basis as part of their utility bills, which is then used for street maintenance and construction.
“It will be a dedicated funding source; any revenue fee would be restricted to maintaining the city streets,” Haverlah said.
Bryan has operated with the transportation fee since 1997, when it started charging all residents and businesses $2.50 per month, according to Haverlah’s presentation.
At that time, the fee generated about $600,000 for street maintenance. About $5.3 million was generated by Bryan in the 2013 fiscal year, but the fee was also raised to $14 for residents and $210 for larger commercial businesses.
Councilmen Kenn Smith and Jim Schmitz said they could not support adding new fees but agreed researching the option couldn’t hurt.
City Manager Andrea Gardner said Cove would not look at implementing a fee as high as Bryan’s and such a fund would reduce the property tax, as allocations for street maintenance would be removed from the general fund.
The city, which budgeted $803,825 in FY 2014 for street maintenance, has routinely had problems paying for road maintenance.
Of the current allocation, only $207,000 is set aside for maintenance.
Other options for funding road maintenance include either reducing services to fund such projects or “raise revenues for additional services,” Haverlah said.
The city is working on a long-term street maintenance plan that will identify how and when streets need to be repaired.