Granite Shoals hearings propose $7.56 million budget, small tax increase

Glynis Crawford Smith/The Highlander

The Granite Shoals City Council will hold second hearings on the tax rate and budget Thursday, Aug. 31. The meeting Tuesday, Aug. 29, will have annexation hearings on the agenda.

By Glynis Crawford Smith

The Highlander

The Granite Shoals City Council forged ahead on financial planning at a meeting Thursday, Aug. 24, despite unresolved differences on fire serve contracts.

The council held its first public hearings on a proposed budget of $7,568,765 budget, with ad valorem tax revenue based on a proposed rate of $0.56313 per $100 valuation.

The fund balance at the end of the 2017-2018 fiscal year is projected to increase by $48,367, bringing the total to $710,689.

“That is approximately 79 days of operation,” said Finance Director Wendy Gholson. “Our goal is a surplus of 90 days.”

Gholson said increasing the tax rate from $0.5472 per $100 value to the proposed $0.56313, based on the increase of property value in the city, should result in an additional $154,196 revenue.

The city's total certified taxable value of $489,595,595 is about $22.773 million greater and yields an adjusted value of $398,934,988, an increase of about $17.85 million over the previous year.

The proposed rate is divided $0.34828 per $100 for Maintenance and Operation (M&O) and $0.21485 for the Interest and Sinking Fund (I&S). The M&O ad valorem tax revenue should be $1,582,695 and I&S, $976,347.

Although the council meets again tonight, Tuesday, Aug. 29, the second hearings on the budget and tax rate will not be on the agenda until Thursday, Aug. 31, with final approval expected Sept. 7.

The Tuesday meeting will involve second hearings on three annexations—Web Isle and Beaver Island subdivisions and Mezger family agricultural property. Final annexation action is not expected until the end of September.

In addition, tonight, City Manager Ken Nickel and Gholson have prepared figures for two new proposed fire service contracts with the Burnet County Emergency Service District 3 (ESD #3). ESD participation in the cost of Granite Shoals Fire Rescue (GSFR) is the biggest unknown in the coming budget year.

“One offer is a five-year contract, as the one now expiring was,” said Nickel. “The other is a one-year contract that gives everyone time to re-group.”

Whatever the council opts to send to the ESD #3 will be considered next by the district's board Thursday.

Amid all the figures city staff has wrangled to create a coherent picture of the cost of fire service are some not immediately apparent from bottom line totals. They include overhead on the fire station, mandated equipment replacement, employee benefits and scheduling of part-time firefighters to accommodate sick leave and vacation time allotted full-time employees. City staff has worked several years on accounting more accurately the equipment, supplies, insurance, maintenance and management time devoted to the various departments and activities of the city. Accounting for those for GSFR and asigning them to two different budget configerations are what staff is trying to do.

“My spread sheet is out of columns,” said Nickel. “It comes down to … the cost of ownership.”

Also during the Thursday meeting, John Utley, who said he represented the Granite Shoals Citizen Advocacy Group, spoke during citizen comments to read into the record an email from Michael Steenbergen.

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