August 23, 2021

Coffee With a Cop

The Bellaire Police Department is hitting the streets in a whole new way this fall!  Chief Mo Lopez invites you to join him and his fellow officers for Coffee With a Cop, to be hosted monthly by different area businesses.  The idea is simple.  You just show up, grab a complimentary cup of coffee, and enjoy some good conversation with Bellaire police officers about whatever’s on your mind.  No speeches, no agenda, no limits on quality interaction.

Coffee With a Cop provides an opportunity for members of the public to get to know their officers in an informal, relaxed environment, to build personal relationships and foster mutual trust in furtherance of our shared objective of promoting a stronger, safer community.

Local businesses of all types and sizes are encouraged to participate.  All they’re asked to provide is coffee, light snacks and a space for people to gather and talk.  The Bellaire Business Association is helping by facilitating sign-ups, but businesses do not need to be BBA members to host an event.  It’s a win-win for the community and local business.

The first Coffee With a Cop was held last week, at The '401 Table and Tap, and was a great success.  Next month’s will be at the H-E-B Bellaire Market, date and time to be announced.  The Bellaire Police Department looks forward to engaging one-on-one with you!

August 19, 2021

City on Fast Track to Restoring CRS Classification

As you may have heard this week, unfortunately the City recently lost its status as a participant in the Community Rating System (CRS) of the National Flood Insurance Program.  Not because anything has changed with respect to our actual flood risk profile, but because of the City’s failure to timely file the required paperwork with the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), which administers the program.  Effective October 1, our CRS classification will be downgraded from 7 to 10, thus eliminating—temporarily—the discounts we currently enjoy on our flood insurance premiums.  (For the majority of Bellaire, in flood Zone AE, that discount is 15%; for those in Zone X with standard policies it’s 5% because they already pay lower premiums.)

From the time the City was notified of the problem staff have been working diligently, and in close coordination with FEMA, on a plan to solve it.  They’ve made some good progress.  First, FEMA has approved fast-tracking our reclassification to a 9, which will result in a partial restoration of the discount, to 5% across the board, on flood policies that come up for renewal beginning April 1 of next year.  Beyond that, FEMA is allowing the City an opportunity to further improve our classification—back to 7 or perhaps lower—by next October, instead of having to start from scratch and rejoining the CRS anew.  This at least limits the damage in the near term, and potentially even puts us in a better position moving forward than where we started.

August 10, 2021

Informed Decision Making on Taxpayer Subsidies

Are we as Bellaire taxpayers subsidizing, more than we should be, fee-supported services and amenities?  Are our taxes, based on property values, offsetting the cost of our water and wastewater usage, and solid waste collection, on our utility bills?  The City’s recent user fee and cost allocation study, completed in time for consideration in the development of next year’s budget, confirms what we expected all along but previously could not well quantify.

The main takeaways from the extensive and detailed study report are that our current user fee schedules are lagging significantly behind the actual costs of providing services, and that the Enterprise (utility) Fund isn’t carrying its share of administrative and overhead costs.  If fully realized, the study’s recommendations would result in an increase of nearly $1.1 million in annual fee-based revenues, and an additional $449,000 in the yearly overhead transfer from the Enterprise to the General Fund.

Whether and to what extent the study results are implemented is ultimately a policy question for the City Council.  As are the decisions on where that extra money would go, and/or the amount of any offsetting reductions in property taxes.  The exercise isn’t so much about generating new revenue streams as it is about making sure we’re matching our costs to their appropriate funding sources.