Bryan City Council resumes fiscal 23 budget talks | Latest Headlines


Bryan City Council members continued their fiscal year 2022-23 budget discussions Tuesday after three separate presentations on power, water and wastewater, and solid waste, which are part of the proposed corporate fund.

Chief Financial Officer Will Smith said there are two categories of corporate fund that have not yet come before the council, including airport funds and the Bryan Commerce and Development Funds. Smith said the proposed corporate fund budget is about $321.5 million just for power, water, wastewater and solid waste.

City officials told the council that there were no proposals to increase tariffs on electricity, water, sewage and solid waste.

Greg Miller, general manager of Bryan Texas Utilities, attended a joint meeting between BTU’s board of directors and the city council and said Bryan residents will not see a rate change on their electric bills if approved by the council.

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“We did pretty well during winter storm Uri. Our [generators] was running all the time, which allowed us to avoid much of the cost that other utilities had to incur during that period,” he said on Wednesday. “We ended up having a negative effect on our utility, but it wasn’t very significant; and because we were financially stable at the time.”

Miller said BTU plans for the future each year in terms of electricity, and because natural gas prices have been “extremely low in recent years,” they’ve made economic power purchases that will stretch out for years to come.

“With this current increase in gas prices, we have not had to make any significant acquisitions to meet our customers’ needs,” he said. “Bryan-College Station has experienced and experienced very steady and very continuous growth over the last 20 years and this year we reached something of a milestone with over 65,000 customers. And both our rural and urban systems are very resilient, showing gradual growth without slowing down.”

BTU’s city system includes all customers within Bryan city limits; The rural system includes the rest of Brazos County’s residents in rural areas, including some portions within the College Station city limits, and some residents in Robertson and Burleson counties, Miller said.

BTU’s proposed city system electricity tariffs total spending of $223.5 million, an increase from fiscal 22 spending of $190.4 million; Revenue is proposed at $229.2 million, up from FY22 revenue of $196.1 million, Miller said.

BTU’s proposed FY23 rural system electricity tariffs are US$54.9 million, an increase from FY22 spending of US$49.4 million; Revenue is proposed at $56.1 million, up from FY22 revenue of $50.3 million, Miller said.

Miller said he noted to the council that despite the magnitude of the cost of both systems, their reserves are still growing.

“That tells us we’re doing a good job of generating revenue at the low rates we have and still adding to our reserves at the end of the year,” he said.

Jayson Barfknecht, director of Bryan Public Works, presented the water and sanitation portion of the company fund budget to the council and said they are not proposing rate increases.

“We have some cash in the bank and want to resort to projects and investments that are one-off expenses,” he said Wednesday. “And then we have money on the water side when we look at production facilities and upgrades, and also on the wastewater side at the treatment plant [for upgrades].”

Proposed FY23 water spending is $17.9 million, a 6.8% increase over FY22 spending; Proposed water revenue is $14.7 million, a 1.7% increase over FY22 revenue, Barfknect said.

Proposed FY23 wastewater spending is $16.7 million, down 5.9% from FY22 spending; Projected wastewater revenue is $14.2 million, a 2.7% increase over FY22 revenue, Barfknect said.

Referring to the decrease in sewage spending, Barfknecht said: “They spend more than they earn in revenue, but it will do everything [future] projects.”

“As a utility, we’re not really in the business of making money, so we’re using this excess cash that we have to make infrastructure improvements, and by doing so, we’re pulling that cash level down; but we aim for 100 days [of cash on hand], instead of our 60-day minimum, so we have some buffer in there,” he said. “Over the next few years, we plan to add a generator to our low-service pumping stations to create wells out there and send water into the city in the event of an extended power outage.”

Eric Zaragoza, Bryan’s environmental services manager, introduced the council to the solid waste portion of the company’s fund and also said residents would not see rate increases once the council approved.

“We will continue our $13.50 monthly rate on ours [residential] residents, which we reduced two years ago,” he said. “We have no plans to increase that rate in terms of projections over the next five years.”

Proposed FY23 solid waste spending is $10.8 million, a 7.3% increase over FY22 spending; Proposed solid waste revenue is $8.8 million, a 2.4% increase over FY22 revenue, Zaragoza said.

Zaragoza said they also proposed adding a trade route and a residential route to the council to expand routes as the city grows and its fleet cannot maintain the same size. Another reason for additional trails was that they realized that the COVID-19 pandemic was increasing the solid waste tonnage in a given household as people had to work from home.

Bryan’s next budget meeting is July 28.

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