Ridgemont Village gets Community Pride Award, council hears budget, tax rate

GLYNIS CRAWFORD SMITH/THE HIGHLANDER

The first annual Community Pride Award is presented to Ridgemont Village for spring cleaning beautification within the city. Mayor John Packer is joined for the presentation at the Marble Falls City Council meeting Aug. 16 by, continuing left, Scott Matthews, Ridgemont Village owner; resident Dee Guinn, and Kelly Crane, Ridgemont Village manager.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

Ridgemont Village, a retirement community at 92 Gateway North, has been named recipient of the first annual Marble Falls Community Pride Award.

The award was first on the agenda of the Marble Falls City Council in a meeting Tuesday, Aug. 16, that included also the first public hearing on a budget and tax rate and an encouraging report on the city's relationship with Baylor Scott & White.

“I want to thank Ridgmont Village for taking part in this effort to enhance the appearanceof our community,” said Mayor John Packer in welcome to Scott and Gail Matthews, owners of the gated, hilltop development, and their manager Kelly Crane.

Crane introduced Adrian and Dee Guinn, saying “Dee was the one who read about the award in the newspaper and nominated us. The Guinns are representative of our residents who care about the place where they live.”

After 10 years of operation, Ridgemont Village remains 100 percent occupied with a waiting list and more than 70 percent of residents are over the age of 50.

“They love our single-level structures,” said Crane. “People have found us to be the perfect place when they are tired of being homeowners but not ready for assisted living.”

City Manager Mike Hodge explained that the award had been the inspiration of a staff community engagement committee, which also was instrumental in leading Marble Falls to become a Keep Texas Beautiful city. Neighborhoods were encouraged to make nominations after the Spring Clean Event this year.

The financial hearings will be repeated again Sept. 6, before final approval of a proposed tax rate of $0.6483 per $100 valuation. That rate is below the effective rate, but will produce $37,684 (a spare, 0.08817 percent) more than ad valorem tax revenue in the last budget. Budget expenditures of $9,599,283 exceed the current budget by 5.52 percent, with a buffer of excess revenue of $8,066.

The council followed the recommendation of Director of Human Resources Angel Alvarado and her benefits committee to award a new contract for the city's group health insurance to Baylor Scott & White.

“This contract represents a zero percent increase,” said Alvarado, in review of the bid process. “We we were able to obtain a 5.7 percent decrease by staying with Scott & White.”

“You have a good public-private partnership with Scott & White,” said Mark McDonald, a broker with the McDonald Agency that represents the city. “I don't have any other carrier with that kind of relationship.”

As part of its consent agenda, the council approved repair of the Marble Falls Fire Rescue 100-foot platform truck, an amount not to exceed $194,614. The fire department research indicated the repair could extend the life of the 2000-model, $1.2 million truck by 1–15 years.

An ordinance adopting a new speed limit on Texas 71 on approach to the Baylor Scott & White hospital and clinic was approved after a second reading by City Engineer Eric Belaj. Various fire and emergency units that participated in the first disaster drill at the new hospital last year were the first to suggest that 70 mph was an unsafe speed for traffic around the hospital entrances and the Marble Falls fire department made the initial request for a change.

“'The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) took a look at it and decided a 60 mph limit would be better than the 55 mph we recommended,” said Belaj.

Also regarding TxDOT, the council approved a memorandum of agreement that with the agreement of the Texas Transportation Commission and the approval of the governor would convey the parts of Avenue H and Buena Vista Drive back to the city for relocation of the boat ramps on Lake Marble Falls as part of the hotel -convention center development project.

The property was handed to TxDOT in 1969 for the development of public access to the lake, but by 2011 it was becoming apparent that some new location would work more efficiently in park development and the first request was made to TxDOT. The new agreement would pass the property of a value estimated at $125,000 back to city at no cost as long a new site is selected within a year and a new ramp is in place within two years of the Lakeshore Park site.

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