The Belton Journal

The regularly scheduled Belton City Council Meeting was held on June 11, at the Harris Community Center at 401 N. Alexander, Belton. Mike Rodgers, Director of Finance, conducted a work session on the proposed fiscal year 2025 budget considerations including: Hotel/Motel Tax Fund, TIRZ Fund, Information Technology Fund, BEDC Fund, and updates on the General Fund, and Debt Service Fund from the previous council meeting. Rodgers discussed the Hotel/Motel Tax Fund, and how it accounts and uses the hotel occupancy tax for the promotion of tourism and the convention/ hotel industry in Belton. The Fiscal Year 2025 Statement of Fund Balance projects an increase in the fund to $1,088,594 by September 30, 2025. Significant growth in city tax revenue, registration fees, and interest income were factors contributing to revenue growth. The fund can only be used for purposes such as improving center facilities, promoting tourism, providing resources for convention delegates, and paying for related bonds. To date, 19 short-term rental units (STRs) have been permitted. Out of the 19 permitted STR’s, 11 of them have not paid their city Hotel/Motel Taxes. The TIRZ Fund Revenue comes from City Contributions, County Contributions, and Miscellaneous Income. Total TIRZ Budget for fiscal year 2025 has anticipated revenue of $3,630,840, a 13.6 percent increase over fiscal year 2024. Additionally, the city’s Information Technology Fund has projected unrestricted Net Assets of $375,097, as of September 30, 2024. Proposed Fiscal Year 2025 revenues are $1,071,030, and proposed expenses are $1,283,460. Computer system maintenance and annual maintenance on more than sixty software agreements will take place in 2025. Three locations will have fiber connections installed to upgrade city communications. Building Maintenance Fund Expenditures were modified slightly due to personnel costs, annual merit increases, and rising insurance costs. Other expenditures include adding skirting and an ADA deck at the building maintenance office. HVAC maintenance expenditures increased to replace several units. The General Fund included a reduction to property tax revenue at the nonew-revenue rate. The fund saw a $77,000 increase in revenue due to the adjusted interest rate increase to 4.5 percent instead of 4 percent. The Debt Service Fund update reflects that $80,000 of accumulated reserves can be used to reduce the debt portion of the property tax rate for Fiscal Year 2025. No action was required by the City Council at this time on the proposed budget considerations. A public hearing was held for an application from Belle Oaks Apartments, LP, to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for 2023 Housing Tax Credits for Belle Oaks Apartments. The Belle Oaks Apartments, located at 1100 Shady Lane and comprising 200 units, has aged to 53 years since its construction and is showing signs of deterioration and becoming a hub for criminal activities. Collaboration between the Belton Police Department and the Texas Attorney General’s office was initiated to declare Belle Oaks as a nuisance property. A meeting held about a year ago involving all concerned parties, including property management, to discuss various recommendations for enhancements. Suggestions ranged from improved building standards, code enforcement, physical property upgrades like fencing, to management improvements such as criminal trespass authority and a parking pass system. Recently, Paths Development acquired the property and engaged with City Staff to delve into Belle Oaks’ past issues. Chief Larry Berg acknowledged progress made by the New York-based management team in addressing previous concerns, yet data showing 287 service calls in the last six months indicates the need for ongoing improvements to benefit apartment residents and the community. A proposal for a four-percent Federal Income Tax Credit through TDHCA totaling $13,057,772 has been put forth for the redevelopment of Belle Oaks at an estimated cost of $43,117,824. Development plans include complete unit rehabilitation, energy-efficient appliances, enhanced lighting, 24/7 security, recreational areas, community spaces, high-speed internet access, ADA compliance, and bike parking. Additional recommendations include perimeter chain-link fencing and a Comprehensive Management and Operation Plan featuring measures such as criminal trespass authority, parking passes, and regular tenant listings to the police department. An MOU Agreement is proposed to formalize these commitments. The anticipated fiscal impact is deemed nominal, with potential enhancements expected to increase the property’s value and subsequent taxes. Recommendations include conducting a public hearing on the proposed Tax Credits for Belle Oaks, along with approving the MOU, Comprehensive Management and Operations Plan, and issuing a Resolution of No Objection toward tax credits issuance. Property value in fiscal year 2023 was $11,376,157; property taxes totaled $60,589.41. The City Council voted unanimously to approve an MOU for a Comprehensive Management and Operations Plan, and a Resolution of No Objection to the issuance of tax credits.