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Council gives first approval to $1.1 billion budget

Council member Gil Hernandez
Posted at 7:29 PM, Sep 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-09-06 20:48:57-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Corpus Christi City Council has given preliminary approval to the $1.1 billion budget presented by City Manager Peter Zanoni back in July.

It wasn’t a unanimous vote, as District 5 Council Member Gil Hernandez cast the single "no" vote during today's budget roll call.

Both he and At-large Council Member Michael Hunter had some concerns about the two-cent property tax rate increase to pay for residential street repairs.

But, with a few amendments added, the Zanoni spending plan is moving forward.

"But there are some things that I just can't accept specifically because I know the residential streets are important,” Hernandez said.

Despite some council member push-back, the budget is moving forward to a second and final vote.

Public safety and roads still take high priority.

With additional staffing for the police department and fire department.

And even bigger changes for our streets.

That will be funded by the two-cent property tax increase that voters approved.

But Hunter and Hernandez said, while they supported the budget, they didn't support the tax increase.

When the vote was taken, only Hernandez voted "no."

"They want us to provide this first-class quality service, but yet they don't want to be on record of voting for the tax increase to support the budget, which I think is hypocritical," Mayor Joe McComb said.

Before today's vote, there had been a series of public input meetings.

That input led to some amendments today.

Those changes include adding one more code enforcement officer to city staff.

Adding two more library staff members, and restoring the Harte Library's hours.

The 2020 budget is the largest budget in terms of dollars.

The city manager says it reflects the growth we've seen in Corpus Christi.

"There's tremendous growth,” Zanoni said. “And so we want to be a city where people want to move to and stay in. So, we want to have top quality services."

There will be a second reading for the city budget at the next council meeting which is Sept. 17.

If it’s approved as expected, the budget will go into effect on Oct. 1.

There is no rate increase in the budget for storm water or waste water.

The city manager is, however, asking for a water use rate increase.

He proposed an 84-cent increase.

There was no agreement on that today.

That water use increase will be back on the agenda for the Sept. 17 meeting.