How do we pay for street repairs?

HARLINGEN — The city is revising a proposal that would charge residents a monthly fee to help fund street repairs.

Options could include raising the city’s property tax rate, Mayor Chris Boswell said yesterday.

Early this month, city commissioners voted 3-2 against imposing a street maintenance fee that would raise about $1.2 million a year.

Under City Manager Dan Serna’s original proposal, the city’s utility bills would include a monthly $4.50 charge to residential and multi-family utility accounts and $8.50 per month to commercial and industrial utility accounts.

But the proposed fees were too high, Commissioner Ruben de la Rosa said after he voted against the proposal.

Commissioner Victor Leal, who also voted against the proposal, asked officials to revise their plans.

“There’s going to have to be more

discussion among the commission to figure out how to address this matter,” Boswell said yesterday.

Serna said he plans to present a new proposal during a workshop in February.

“We’ve been tweaking it a bit,” Serna said yesterday.

Now, Serna said he’s considering charging different fees to residential customers.

“If we go that route, the proposal would be a two-tier system, basically two sets of fees,” Serna said.

But he declined to disclose criteria that would determine whether residents pay lower or higher fees.

Boswell said there are other options to a street maintenance fee, including raising the city’s property tax rate of 58 cents per $100 valuation.

“Different revenue sources are on the table,” Boswell said. “Budgeting is all about making choices. When revenues are going up, and ours are, you can make choices.”

Serna said other cities charging residential and commercial fees to fund street improvements include Austin, Corpus Christi, Kingsville, Richmond, Lampasas, College Station, Taylor, Bryan and Lumberton.

Serna’s proposal stems from last summer’s budget workshop, when commissioners asked him to create a fixed account to help fund street projects.

Too often, commissioners said, officials defer expenditures such as street repairs to fund other projects.