Granite Shoals considers small tax rate increase

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

The Granite Shoals City Council on Tuesday night, Aug. 9, heard a review of a staff proposed budget and agreed to publish a tax rate they would not exceed: $0.5572 per $100 valuation.

That rate represents a sliver of an increase over the 2015 rate of $0.5207, just about three and a half cents per $100 valuation. But it falls below the rollback rate but above the effective rate, bringing in this year's ad valorem tax revenue to $2.4 million.

The hard decisions on a staff proposed budget of $6.76 million will be on the table at a budget workshop Monday, Aug. 15.

Development slowed in Granite Shoals last year over the previous six percent hike in property valuation. The 2.9 percent increase in valuation would add only $56,000 to revenue if the full 55.72 cents per $100 were instituted.

The bare bones budget presented Tuesday night included $155,305 in increases over the 2015-2016 budget, all items that staff members considered council mandates or absolute essentials. One of those was $39,639 for repairs to the city hall roof, without which more damage could result, explained City Manager Ken Nickel.

Other increases included: an additional $50,000 for street maintenance and additional $30,500 to lease equipment for the work; $42,500 for an employee for streets and public grounds and parks; $45,585 for part-time personnel on-duty during the critical fire and rescue call hours of 10 p.m.-6 a.m., and money for a maximum three percent salary increase for qualifying employees.

The proposal would bring the budget surplus, that balance held back in case of financial disaster that has been so key to improving the city's credit rating, to more than $23,000.

“That ending balance would meet about 76.2 days expenses and bring us just 18 days away from our target,” said Finance Director Wendy Gholson. “The taxpayers would be getting everything on that list four an increase of just about $3 per $100,000 valuation.”

By Wednesday morning every presentation and document had been included on the Financial Transparency tab of the city website:

Public hearings on the tax rate and budget will be held at the regular council meeting Aug. 23 and at a special meeting Sept. 7, with final adoption by roll call vote on Sept. 16.

One reason city staff has proposed an additional full-time employee beyond the needs of street maintenance that have pulled staff from park maintenance is concerns the maintenance of landscape of city properties.

''That has been done for many years by our Beautification Advisory Group (BAG) and they have done so much, but new members have not been coming forward,” said Nickel.

“They were in their 60s when they started more than 10 years ago,” noted City Council Member Anita Hisey. “It's too much now.”

The council also approved an ordinance change for the BAG that reduces the required membership from 15 to 10 members.

Assistant Fire Chief Tim Campbell made a presentation to Marble Falls Fire and Rescue of a new utility trailer. Funds for the new equipment, about $1,800, were contributed by the Marble Falls Volunteer Fire Department Auxiliary and citizen water bill contributions.

Although the lead time will be at least two and a half years, a third stop light should be coming to Granite Shoals. Mayor Carl Brugger said the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) had responded favorably to a request by the council to consider the traffic control.

Michael Steenbergen presented a petition from more than 50 fellow citizens calling for a referendum on the No Deer Feed Ordinance (Ordinance 680). Exact wording to include an up or down vote on the ordinance in the November election was continued to a future agenda.

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