City leaders discuss solutions to projected $20 million budget shortfall

Posted at 5:47 PM, Apr 19, 2018
and last updated 2018-04-19 18:47:32-04

The City of Corpus Christi could be facing a $20 million budget shortfall. City leaders got the grim news. at a workshop last month, and during another workshop today, City Council members questioned the city staff about how we got into this situation.

That estimated shortfall is a worst case scenario. There are still factors that can sway it, and right now city leaders are not quite certain where next year’s budget will land. However one thing they do know, is that they need to find some solutions

"I think the city has had a really hard time figuring out it’s obligations for anything in the future," Councilwoman Lucio Rubio said. 

City Council members today questioned city staff on how we got to a projected $20 million budget shortfall for fiscal year 2018-2019. 

The city has about $12 million dollars in obligations to various departments, and another $7 million in contractual obligations to fire and police. 

"What we’re trying to do as a policy making group is go forward, and the plan that we have, in my opinion, is not sustainable," Mayor Joe McComb said. 

So city leaders are considering several solutions.  

Those include changing retirement benefits packages for city employees, or reassessing health care for fire and police. They are also considering reductions in some city services. 

"Everything’s on the table, and that’s the way it ought to be when you’re trying to set a policy on how to move forward," Mayor McComb said. 

That move forward could come at a cost for Corpus Christi residents. The City Council is considering options like an increase in solid waste fees and street taxes.

"I think we need to talk about how we raise our revenue, and not just how we cut cut cut. To maintain that quality of life, there’s a balance that we have to put in there," Councilwoman Debbie Lindsey-Opel said. 

The good news?

"The $20 million dollar shortfall is basically the worst case scenario," Lindsey-Opel said. 

Council members also asked for a more detailed breakdown of all the revenue the city could expect to see.

"Realistically, there’s money identified that is not reflected in the revenue budget. I think there are still revenues that are coming in, they’re just information we don’t have," Lindsey-Opel said. 

 Some of that information the city still does not have is how much Hurricane Harvey affected property tax values. They will get an update on that from the tax appraiser in just over a week, and then they will know just how much of a budget shortfall the city is facing.