Ofo bikes

An Ofo bike is left in a rack outside Blue Bell Park at Texas A&M University on Saturday. The Ofo bikes are part of a dockless bike share program.

The College Station City Council will get a look at some potential dockless bike-share regulations this week.

Texas A&M University launched a program with Chinese bike-sharing company Ofo in late February with 500 bikes, which later ramped up to 850. The council will be considering ways to regulate the yellow bikes before their numbers increase to between 3,000 and 4,000 bikes by the start of the fall semester.

City staffers were directed in May to bring back regulations for the council to consider this summer. While Ofo bikes are meant to be left in bike racks within the program's geo-fenced area, which includes the Texas A&M campus and some apartment complexes, they're commonly ridden and left across both College Station and Bryan.

Mayor Karl Mooney acknowledged at a May council meeting that the city has heard "the clamor" about the bikes from residents. The council will review a draft ordinance on Thursday.

As Ofo is primed to expand in the fall, the city has also been contacted by other companies interested in launching their services in College Station.

In March, 8,948 active riders logged 39,016 miles and 77,167 rides on Ofo bikes. The next month, 9,758 riders traveled 34,223 miles on 67,472 rides.

Also at Thursday's meeting, the city council is scheduled for a vote on an ordinance creating a 5 percent homestead exemption.

Two weeks ago, the council agreed to pursue such an exemption, which would remove 5 percent of a home's valuation from taxation. That translates into about $71 off the tax bill of the average College Station home. That value, though, assumes that the council will also decide to approve a tax increase in September to mitigate the resulting loss in revenue.

A 5 percent exemption with no tax hike would result in about $664,000 in lost revenue to the city's general fund annually. Council members have indicated they will likely consider increasing the tax levy by about three-quarters of a cent to offset the lost revenue.

School districts are already required by law to offer $25,000 exemptions to owners who have listed a property as their primary residence. But any other taxing unit, including cities, can choose to offer an exemption of up to 30 percent of a home's value. If the council adopts the exemption Thursday, it would be automatic for College Station homeowners who have already filed with the Brazos Central Appraisal District for the school homestead exemption.

Rising property valuations across the city and taxing income-generating properties differently than owner-occupied ones have been mentioned as motivations for the exemption.

The workshop Thursday begins at 5 p.m. at City Hall, 1101 Texas Ave., and the regular meeting starts at 6 p.m.

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