|City Departments collect a wide variety of fees for permits, services, fines and other charges that are all part of everyday operations of municipal government. Since September 2008, the fees have been incorporated into a single fee schedule. Ordinance 08-M-43 established the consolidated fee schedule and allows for the modification of existing fees to be done by resolution while new fees are established or added to the Fee Schedule by ordinance.
The Fee Schedule ordinance provides a single document with all City fees that directly affect the users. The changes to the fees ensure the continued operation of public utilities, provides for essential services to the community and to adequately maintain the investment in existing infrastructure. All changes to the fee schedule will have a 45-day period before the new fees take effect. This allows staff to update and advise citizens on the upcoming changes. The recommended effective date of these fee changes will be October 1, 2022.
Schertz Magazine rates have not been increased since its creation in 2008; however, many area publications have also held steady rates over the years as well. Recently Schertz Magazine costs for paper/printing have increased about 20-25% since last year and to help offset rising costs staff is proposing a 10% increase on advertising fees. To keep our rates competitive in the market and to avoid a sharp increase which may impact interest from small businesses staff recommends a gradual increase of 10%.
The last meaningful rate increases for the rental facilities took place in FY 2017-18. The pandemic and frequent closures(COVID, Vaccine Clinics and HVAC replacement) of our facilities sidelined rate evaluations and adjustments over the past 5 years. The proposed fee schedule adjustments and increases are aimed at continuing to increase our cost recovery while also maintaining a competitive market position among other venues of similar size and quality. Additionally, throughout the last 5 years the City has made tremendous investments ($1.36 million) into the rental facilities (ballroom kitchen remodel, new floors, new AV system, new chairs and new HVAC) and the proposed rates better reflect the quality of services offered to our customers. Below is a breakdown of the proposed changes:
Proposed Adjustments to current fees:
· Adjustment to the Kitchen Fee to now be Kitchen/F&B Fee. In the past this fee was tied to a capital recovery fee for the replacement of kitchen items. We no longer have a capital recovery account for the kitchens, so we are adding F&B into this fee to account for any events that have food and accumulate trash and additional work for event staff.
· In 2020 we renovated the ballroom kitchen to include a larger area and additional appliances. We would recommend a fee increase to $300.00 to account for the increased amenities.
· Early Open fee is being increased to deter folks from booking additional hours. During peak seasons, additional event hours add time and stress to our staff, and we are hoping this fee will deter folks from either booking additional hours or coming in early for their events. Staff feels there is value in offering an additional rental hour in certain circumstances, so we do not wish to remove the fee entirely.
· We increased the special rates for HOA/Funerals to maintain a $50 discount on the normal room rental. This adjustment is driven by the increase in the standard room rental.
· Across the board, we are recommending fee increases by 10-15% in all rental venues. These increases are in line with other rates in the area and push us forward in closing the gap on cost recovery. In 2019 (the last time we were able to complete an accurate cost recovery) we were running about an 85% cost recovery, but expenses have increased (staff salaries up by 13%, supplies, utilities) since that time so our current cost recovery is estimated to be in the 70% range. A 25-30% fee increase would not be recommended at one time so instead, staff recommends a 10-15% rate increase. New Braunfels Civic Center is also proposing similar fee increases this year.
· We are recommending the elimination of the half-day rate in the ballroom/cut-off hall on Sundays. The size of this room does not lend itself to shorter events on the weekend and for consistency, we will couple Sunday and Friday rates together as we do in the Bluebonnet Hall.
· Clarification was added for the A/V services in the bluebonnet hall, ballroom and applicable breakout rooms. Current A/V rates will include access to 2 screens/projectors.
We are recommending the A/V services fee in the bluebonnet hall be increased to match the ballroom fee as the A/V system has been upgraded and both rooms offer the same services and features.
· We are also recommending the elimination of the banquet package in the ballroom and bluebonnet hall Mon-Thur. This fee is not often used as most events during the week don’t need a dance floor, bar, up lights, etc. Renters will still be able to add amenities as needed and enjoy the lower room rates offered during the week.
Proposed New Fees:
· Staff would like to offer a beverage tub for our clients. This tub would be used to cool soft drinks, water, and other beverages during events to eliminate the use of ice chests in the Civic Center. In the past ice chests have leaked onto the floors causing a hazard during events and also damage to the floor. Even with floor mats under them we have experienced these issues. The beverage tub would aim to eliminate the need/use of ice chests in the building and protect our new floors in the ballroom.
· Staff would like to create a fee for the private suite attached to the ballroom. This room has recently been renovated to offer a comfortable space for a small group of people to meet. The fee is comparable to other area venues.
· Based on evaluation of the quality-of-life fee and the renters who use this staff is recommending eliminating this fee. In lieu of this fee, we would recommend a Gym Use Fee for the Community Center only. This fee is more broadly defined and fits better for different community recreation types of events. The recommended fee is low compared to other Gym Use Fees but there is minimal work to be done with these types of recreation groups and we do not wish to deter folks from using the facility.
In City Events, staff is adding in the Signs of Love for the Kick Cancer walk/run event. Indoor volleyball league will be removed or lack of participation as well as the fee for the t-shirt decorating contest at Jubilee that we are not planning on having next year.
Parks is adding fees for group picnic areas as a new reservation service hoping to meet the needs of larger gatherings.
Pools is adding fees describing the Float & Fireworks event and the Paws in the Pool event.
The fee to add a paver at the Veteran's Memorial will be added to the fee schedule.
The Senior Center Membership Fee will be added to the fee schedule.
Under Health and Sanitation, staff recommends removing the section describing the City Code Violation Court Fee of $10 as this amount is under the preview of the Judge and is set by them during court.
Fire recommends removing Flammable liquid and gas tank permits as this is now reviewed by the state making staff's review redundant.
EMS proposes to increase millage to $22. This fee hasn't been updated since FY 2013-14 and staff has seen higher fuel and vehicle maintenance costs.
EMS also recommends increase the Per Capita fee charged to service areas by 2% to help offset inflation costs.
Planning & Zoning added some clarifying language on the Appeals and request for amendments to include requests to the Comprehensive Land Use Plan.
Inspections recommends adding a increasing scale for reinspections. Staff is getting too many re-inspection requests from builders and is being used as quality control. Quality control is the responsibility of the contractor and the volume of requests makes it hard for staff to keep up, ultimately slowing development. This graduated scale will keep first reinspection requests the same as staff understands it can take a few tries to get something right. The third reinspection increases from $75 to $150 and each other reinspection is $500. This is per trade and not per project so getting a reinspection on plumbing won't increase the fee to get an inspection on electrical.
Also in Inspections, staff changed language of license/registrations of trade to clarify what is required. No changes will change any fees or current requirements. Also recommended is the removal fo the miscallaneous fees as staff feels the existing fee options will cover the customers' requests.
In 2021, City Council approved a new water and wastewater rate model that provided regular funding for water and wastewater projects, specifically large maintenance and recapitalization projects. The adopted rate model projected out to 2030 to show that to meet the funding necessary to complete the planned projects, an annual 4% water and 4% wastewater rate increase would be needed. Over the past year SSLGC has been evaluating their water system and a need has been identified within the pipeline system. In order to transport the full water supply being added by the new Guadalupe Water Treatment Plant, two additional parallel transmission main segments must be constructed. To fund the design and construction of the Elm Creek and Cowey transmission main segments, SSLGC will be required to issue bonds. The SSLGC bond payments are split evenly between Schertz and Seguin, so the projected bond payments for both design and construction have been added to the rate model. Based on the additional bond costs for the Elm Creek and Cowey transmission main segments, staff is recommending an additional 1% increase to the water rates to bring the total recommended water rate increase to 5% and staff recommends continuing with the planned 4% wastewater rate increase.
|The fee changes will all affect the General Fund but have a low overall fiscal impact due to the narrow scope of their estimated use but are intended as cost recovery of providing the described services.
The average bill increase for EMS transports would increase $24 with the mileage change and the overall effect to covered cities would be $44,000 combined.
On average, residential utility customers would see a $3.57 per month increase under the recommended 5 year rate plan and an additional $0.50 per month for the new parallel pipeline sections. Rate increases are based on 8,400 gallons of water and 5,000 of sewer which are a good average for residential. The average commercial user at 47,900 gallons would see rate increases of $33.13 with an additional $3.50 for the SSLGC project.