Sugar Land scraps New Year's, July 4 celebrations amid budget cuts

SUGAR LAND, Texas (KTRK) -- As Sugar Land's city council grapples with a sizable budget shortfall, the city's landmark holiday celebrations have been eliminated to free up funds.

As part of an effort to slash $1.58 million from the fiscal year 2018 budget, the city council voted late Tuesday to cancel the annual New Year's Eve and Independence Day celebrations, which cost the city $118,000 and $94,000 respectively.

The council also voted to eliminate three full-time city positions and to eliminate printing and mailing of the quarterly newsletter and calendar, which costs $105,000 annually.

The third full-time position that was eliminated - a vacant transportation planner position - was cut to save the city's only public pool. Citing necessary repairs that are "unaffordable under current conditions," the council said that closing the pool would save $40,000 annually.

"For it to go away makes me want to cry," Angela Holden, whose two daughters swim in the pool as part of The Sugar Land Sharks, said before the vote was announced. The team has been affiliated with the city and used the pool for the past 47 years.

VIDEO: Sugar Land counts down to 2017
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Watch revelers ring in 2017 in the Sugar Land Town Center.

City leaders say the cuts are necessary because of much lower than projected sales and property tax revenues, which are lagging because of the oil and gas downturn and a tax rate the council set which fell $600,000 short of fully funding the budget.

In identifying expenses that could be reduced or eliminated, the council focused on recurring expenses that "support the city's financial resiliency."

The city says final cuts will be spread across departments and cause "minimal disruption" to core city services.

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