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Streets, public safety take high priority in proposed city budget

City Hall remains closed due to cold weather
Posted at 9:41 PM, Jul 30, 2019
and last updated 2019-07-30 23:11:00-04

CORPUS CHRISTI, TExas — The city could put some major funding toward street maintenance and public safety. Both issues are major priorities in the $1.1 billion proposed budget that city manager Peter Zanoni presented to city council at its Tuesday meeting.

As it stands now, staffing for both the fire and police departments will be addressed. There's a five-year hiring plan for the Corpus Christi Police Department.

"We're going to recommend five police officers this year, and then five for the next four years, for a total of 25 additional police officers," Zanoni said during a press conference before the council meeting.

Zanoni is also recommending the addition of 16 cadets to the fire academy's class to bring the total to fifty. He also wants to add a 12th EMS unit to improve response times in areas where the city has grown and the demand for emergency medical services is growing.

Even bigger changes are budgeted for our streets.

As Zanoni explained it, "We'll have the highest level of street maintenance and reconstruction in the city's history."

That figure is over $128 million. Zanoni said it will be funded, in large part, by a two-cent property tax increase that voters approved as part of Bond 2018. There is also six percent of the city's general fund dedicated toward street maintenance and reconstruction.

"What we have in this budget is, for the first time ever, some real money to address streets and I've told the directors this morning of that operation that now we have to deliver, right? So it's one thing to have the money but unless we have a plan and a strategy to deliver, it's going to be a lot of lip service," Zanoni said.

The city manager says another key part of this proposal is nearly $5 million dollars in savings. He says that will come by eliminating some of the city's contract work and bringing more projects in-house.

"That 4.8 million in savings will be put back into production in reconstructing more streets and it will also keep our fees low," Zanoni explained.

He added there would be no rate increase for storm water or wastewater service in this budget. It would also get rid of fees to the city's pools. Zanoni also wants to redirect some staffing to create a dedicated team for the issues of homelessness and affordable workforce housing.

Before the budget is finalized, there will be several work sessions with the city council. The public will also have a chance to sound off. The five community meetings are scheduled as follows, with each running from 6-7 p.m.:

  • August 12, Owen Hopkins Library, 3202 McKinzie Rd
  • August 14, Lindale Senior Center, 3135 Swantner St
  • August 15, Ben F. McDonald Library, 4044 Greenwood Dr
  • August 19, Ethel Eyerly Senior Center, 654 Graham Rd
  • August 22, Dr. Clotilde P. Garcia Library, 5930 Brockhampton St

The city manager hopes to have the budget approved by September 17. It would take effect on October 1.