The Belton Journal

During the Belton City Council meeting on July 11, the councilmembers were provided with a comprehensive overview of the City Strategic Plan as well as the proposed annual City Budget. The two documents will serve as guiding benchmarks for the city’s future priorities.
City Manager Sam Listi presented the fiscal years 2024-Strategic Plan to the City Council and will ask for the public’s consideration during a hearing at the City Council meeting scheduled for August 22, 2023.
The last strategic planning season was in April. The theme for the Strategic Plan is “Accountability” and has been updated for the next five-year time period and will be linked to the City Council Budget.
Several areas of emergent interest were identified, to include Governance, Public Safety, Quality Life, Connectivity, Economic Development, Park/Natural Beauty, and Service Delivery.
The Strategic Plan will be placed on the city website on July 12 for public review.
Mayor Leigh suggested that the council should take a look at the updated strategic plan available on the city’s website. Additionally, he said it would be beneficial for the council to consider whether or not the citizens comprehend its contents.
Leigh called it a good document and a way that they can really communicate. It’s nice to have a plan with a true north and something that can be worked with, Leigh said.
Listi called the plan a tremendous framework for the staff to have a future benchmark and something to go by.
Belton’s Finance Director Mike Rodgers presented what he said “starts the clock” for the adoption of the official fiscal year 2024 Proposed Annual Budget.
There have been three workshops leading up to the budget proposal. The budget includes 11 new positions, including three police officers, three firefighters, one Deputy Fire Marshal, one maintenance technician, one civilian crime scene technician, one police dispatcher, and $1 million for street maintenance.
The revenue total for all funds is projected to be $47,789,630. Revenue funds include property taxes, sales taxes, franchise & other taxes, permit fees, court fines & fees, charges for service, miscellaneous income (primarily interest earning revenue), and fund transfers.
The total expenditure for all funds is estimated to be $45,433,080, to include personnel, supplies, maintenance, services, other expenses, water purchases, sewage treatment, debt service, capital outlay, and transfers.
Sewer rates will go up approximately $3 to $4 for a person using an average of 6,000 gallons of water per month. Water rates will remain about the same.
The proposed fiscal year 2024 annual budget may see changes that will increase or decrease the budget prior to adoption.
The dates for the Action Calendar are July 24: Bell County Appraisal CAD delivers certified tax roll. Aug. 8: propose a property tax rate for tax year 2023-2024, set date for public hearing on budget, set date for public hearing on tax rate. Aug. 22: Public hearing on budget, public hearing on Strategic Plan, and Sep. 12: Public hearing on tax rate, adopt Strategic Plan, fiscal year 2024 budget, fee schedule and property tax rate.
The City Council encourages the public to go to the city website and peruse the proposed budget.
Belton Fire Chief Jon Fontenot reported a summary of the Belton Fire Department’s recent training which occurred between June 5 and June 24. In a collaboration with UMHB they acquired a structure on the University of Mary Hardin-Baylor Campus. The UMHB – Old Peacock Building on Tyson Road was generously gifted to the Fire Department to provide firefighters with training in a realistic environment. Training in a real-time setting gave firefighters simulated real-life scenarios, practical experience in navigating smoke-filled rooms, confined spaces, and diverse structures. Chief Fontenot said he witnessed a transformation in the way firefighters communicated and improved their confidence and teamwork to overcome challenges, leading to more effective and efficient emergency responses.
Mayor David Leigh read a proclamation proclaiming July as National Park and Recreation Month in Belton.
After the proclamation was read, Belton Parks & Recreation Coordinator Manuel Zapata was recognized for receiving the National Recreation and Park Association’s 30 Under 30 Award.
Zapata was hired in January 2020 just before COVID-19. The city quickly pivoted to self-led recreation that included an “Interactive Hike” tour of the Miller Springs Nature Center, whereby one could scan QR codes along their hike to watch informational videos. Zapata taught himself how to edit videos and spent hours transforming raw footage into interesting clips featuring historians, nature interpreters and more. As things returned to normal, he helped ensure the department’s streaming technology ran smoothly.
Zapata also spent hours in the community garden, making sure it was clean and welcoming for members to use. Zapata was one of only three Parks & Recreation in Texas to be honored with the award. Award winners were selected based on impact on the agency’s community and service population, contributions to the professional development of the field of parks and recreation, or innovative ideas, programs or research in the field of parks and recreation.