The Sweetwater City Commission met for its regular meeting on Tuesday morning, Aug. 9, 2011 at City Hall for two public hearings as well as an assortment of approvals on action items.
The first public hearing was in regards to the Proposed Budget for 2011-2012, yet no input was heard from the small audience requiring no action to be taken. The proposed budget will raise more total property taxes than last year's budget by 2.74% and of that amount, $53,833 is tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the roll this year.
The other hearing was for discussion on the proposed tax rate of 48 cents per $100 valuation for the Tax Year 2011. Again, no input was given, resulting in no action taken and the close of both public hearings.
In other news relating to public hearings, a Sept. 13 forum on redistricting was scheduled and approved -- which will be held during the city's regular monthly meeting.
The redistricting committee has been in place for some time in which their meeting is slated to be held within the next two weeks. Following the public hearing, a possible vote may also take place on the redistricting plan on the 13th.
Though no action was taken on the matter, City Manager Eddie Brown has implemented the Stage 1 drought condition of the Drought Contingency Plan. Effective immediately, all customers are asked to curtail their use of water for non-essential purposes on a volunteer basis.
Brown made the decision following the advice of the city's Director of Utilities and informed the group that the situation is continually being monitored by the two staff members along with city engineers.
The timeline on whether Stage 2 of the plan will be implemented is unknown, yet it was noted that the moves to the advanced stages -- which eventually make the limitations of water use mandatory -- will be done as deemed necessary.
Also reported was the number of gallons lost in Oak Creek from the week of Aug. 1. Daily, 17 million gallons of water are lost due to evaporation.
However, approvals were sought on a wide amount of issues, including the readings of several ordinances. Following the budget hearing, the first readings of the Appropriations Ordinance and Ordinance to adopt the budget were approved. Also approved was the Central Rate Schedule for the budget of the new fiscal year, which no increases in rates or fees were proposed.
The first reading of an ordinance amending the recent 2010-11 budget was also approved, which is typical "housekeeping" practices for the end of the fiscal year.
Yet another approved ordinance was for the first reading which dealt with an ongoing matter with Atmos Energy. As Sweetwater is part of a 154-city committee, the group has reached a $6.6 million settlement with the energy group in regards to rates in which the city approved the settled amount.
The opening and consideration of two items were also presented during the meeting. One bid for a proposal on Self-Insured Group Health, Dental and Life Insurance Employee Benefit for the new fiscal year was received by the city. The Tommy Morris Agency was called upon to review the proposal, in which he and an associate were in attendance to do so.
The three-part proposal was stated as typically being similar to those from the past and told the commissioners they are where they need to be on the matter. Following the agency's recommendation to accept the bid, the commissioners approved the proposal.
Bids for a bank depository for the city and SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) were also opened and considered, in which only one bid was received by First Financial Bank. The commission approved the bid which met the specified requirements and includes a two-year contract with the option of a two-year extension clause.
The commission also approved for the city to begin seeking bids on a variety of items for the upcoming fiscal year. The approved bundle was made up of bids for fuel, oil and lubrication products, hot mix cold lay asphalt, read mix concrete and weed killer. Approval was also given on the minutes from the July 12 and July 26 meetings.
City Manager Eddie Brown gave his monthly report on several issues, including a reminder of the Aug. 16, 2011 morning meeting for a second public hearing on the proposed tax rate of 48 cents and the Aug. 23, 2011 morning meeting to vote on the tax rate for Tax Year 2011.
Brown also reminded the commissioners and Mayor Greg Wortham to being considerations for the nomination of two SEED board members for a three-year term beginning this October. The nominations would be discussed at a future meeting.
The group was also informed that the Nolan County Commissioners' Court approved a payment for $779.50 to the city which qualifies SNAP for a grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture Texas Feeding Texans program for the 2012-13 year. Over the past three years, the city has received around $50,000 through the program, yet current funding for this grant is contingent upon action taken by the 82nd Legislative Session.
July's sales tax numbers came in at an increase of 34% from the prior year partially due in part to an audit recovery. Year to date, the sales tax revenues are also up 10%.
The commission was also informed that after 35 years of service with the Sweetwater Police Department, Police Chief Jim Kelley has announced his plan to retire on May 31, 2012. Kelley has spent around 27 years of his tenure as the Police Chief, and the city offered their well wishes.