A lean year for the city: Employee raises not likely in Raymondville

RAYMONDVILLE — This year, the city’s budget was lean. But next year’s will be even leaner.

City Manager Eleazar Garcia has proposed a $3.79 million general fund budget with $1 million in cash reserves, 18 months after the closure of the 3,000-bed Willacy County Correctional Center slashed about $600,000 in water and sewer revenue.

Then last January, Walmart shut down its Supercenter here, cutting into the city’s sales tax revenue while laying off 149 employees.

“Everything’s pretty good considering the problems we’ve had as a city and county,” Mayor Gilbert Gonzales said yesterday. “We’re going to survive this and move forward.”

The proposed budget’s so tight employees likely won’t get raises this year, Gonzales said.

It would be the second straight year employees would go without raises.

“I was hoping we could but I don’t believe so,” Gonzales said of employee raises. “If we do, we’re going to be laying off people and that’s something I don’t want to do. That’s my concern — to see what we can do without laying off anyone.”

Garcia cut about $113,000 from the current $3.9 million budget to come up with the proposed general fund budget.

“It’s just a hair leaner than last year’s,” Gonzales said. “We’re still tweaking it here and there.”

Garcia said the deepest cuts came in the areas of equipment, repairs and maintenance.

The loss of Walmart’s revenue cut about $42,000, or 3 percent, from the city’s $1.4 million sales tax collection, Garcia said.

Garcia said the city won’t raise taxes.

The property tax rate of 66 cents per $100 valuation is projected to generate $166 million, up from $165.8 million this year.

For the second year in a row, the city’s held off on funding a street repair program.

But a $200,000 grant from the Federal Emergency Management Agency will help the city repair streets damaged in last October’s flooding, Garcia said.

Tax Rate

At the current tax rate of 0.6656 per $100 of valuation, a home with an appraised value of $75,000 would pay $499.20 in property taxes.

At the effective tax rate of 0.6671, the same home would pay $500.32 in property taxes.