his team continue to restructure and reorganize so as to get the
most out of existing resources.
The city manager also recommends we start building a reserve
this year for future automation upgrades, primarily in the Police
Department. These and other proposed enhancements and
additions to the base will undoubtedly be among the first places
council will look in carefully scrutinizing the budget. As always,
we welcome your input as to which operational services you
would like to see reduced or eliminated.
Flood mitigation will remain our top priority in FY 2020, and it
will be a busy year for such projects, but they don’t really impact
the budget because they’re already funded with unused sidewalk
money and cost savings from earlier phases of the current bond
The proposed budget does conservatively assume a bond
issuance toward the end of the fiscal year, to fund the next
round of local street and drainage improvements, or even cost
participation in all-important regional projects, should there
be an opportunity. A lot could still change between now and
then, however, such as with potential flood mitigation grants.
(Update: we have now been awarded our 2015 CDBG-DR
allocation of $252,034, while our 2017 allocation of $4,095,702
BELLAIRE WATCHDOG • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • • Page 11 | THE ESSENTIALS
The heat is on at City Hall — and it’s not just the weather
By Jane McNeel
is still pending).
Either way, the proposed budget would appropriate leftover
funds from both the current and preceding bond programs to
get a head start on designing street and drainage projects for the
next one, so that they’ll be shovel-ready when authorized.
Presentation of the proposed budget is just the start of the
process, and we’re a long way from final adoption in September.
I strongly encourage you to review the document, especially
the transmittal memo and extensive narrative that explains,
transparently and in context, the difficult choices we’re faced
with. Then, let us know what you think.
Balancing service levels and cost — what we want and what we’re
willing to pay for — is for all of us to decide as a community,
and the City Council needs your input. Our public hearing on
the proposed budget is set for Aug. 12, and will be followed by a
budget workshop that same night, and another on Aug. 19.
Friedberg periodically writes on issues of community
concern at cityofbellairemayorsmusings.blogspot.
com. He may be contacted at afriedberg@bellairetx.
We usually think of summer as a
quiet time in Bellaire, but not
this year. And a great deal that
will impact Bellaire’s future is percolating
in the heat of July and August.
July brought the proposed budget
for the 2020 fiscal year, including a
potential property tax increase of almost
25 percent. Its pages were a detailed
roadmap to the financial problems
that lie ahead. Water bills will go up,
too. More hearings and workshops are
scheduled in August, counting down to
the new fiscal year, which runs from Oct.
1-Sept. 30, 2020.
The proposed development for the old
Chevron property faces stiff opposition
from many Bellaire residents and support
from others. Opponents are concerned
about the known and unknown
environmental issues on the property,
including contamination and radiation,
as well as a potential 85-foot tall
apartment building and proposed activity
in the area day and night, all adjacent
to residences. Planning and Zoning
has requested more information on the
Bellaire City Council was to consider an
application to rezone 4301 Bellaire Blvd.
on Aug. 5, which would plunk down a
commercial building in a residential
That same night, City Council was
also set to hold a public hearing on an
application for a special use permit
for 5235 Bellaire Blvd, for the Take 5
automotive business to do oil changes
and emissions testing in the Bellaire
Triangle. Abutting residents are wary.
We just went through another
process for the city’s boards and
commission. Interest was heavy, with no
lack of applicants.
With so much controversy and loud
dissatisfaction with some decisions at
City Hall, will there be the same depth of
interest in the November election? Let’s
hope for choices in each of the four races,
which will lead to a healthy discussion of
and vote on Bellaire’s future direction.
Candidates have until Aug. 19 to file.
McNeel has lived in Bellaire for
more than 60 years. She maintains
the BellaireCivicClub.com website,
a repository of information on city
issues and events.