City tackles redistricting

The Sweetwater City Commission met for its second regular meeting of the month on Tuesday morning, July 26, 2011 at the City Hall. The two main topics of the brief meeting were on the budget for the upcoming fiscal year and the continued process of redistricting. Sweetwater City Manager Eddie Brown presented the review of the proposed budget for 2011-2012. Brown highlighted several facets of the budget, including the recommended 3.3% cost of living raise for city employees.Other aspects that were spotlighted were property taxes and funds for SNAP, EMS and the Sweetwater Cemetery. The balanced budget has scheduled for the hotel and motel tax to be up — along with wastewater sales and cites some replacements on equipment such as police cars.The budget also notes a possible grant that may be received in order to work on a sewerline project. The presentation of the proposed budget was only for discussion, requiring no action.In similarly related budget news, the commissioners approved the proposal of the tax rate of 48 cents for each $100 valuation for the upcoming tax year. The number has been in place for several years with the belief that it can be maintained, in which the proposal gets the ball rolling in the Truth and Taxation process.With the proposal approved, commissioners also approved the scheduling of two public hearings on the proposed tax rate. The first will be held on August 9, while the second hearing will take place on August 16. Approval was also given to schedule a meeting to vote on the tax rate, which will occur on August 23.The other important matter discussed was on redistricting, in which the commissioners considered the appointment of a citizen's committee. At the previous meeting held on July 12, the recommendation was for each commissioner to present two names while the mayor brought one appointment.The redistricting committee members were presented as follows: Precinct 1--Jeanie McPherson and Roland Herrera, Precinct 2--Tony Lara and Grant Madden and Precinct 4--Janis McDowell and Robert Moore. Mayor Greg Wortham recommended Danny Williams--who will also serve as the committee chairperson, and no names were presented for Precinct 3.Jacob Limon with Knight and Partners, the Austin-based group that is performing the redistricting services for the city, was in attendance to offer several recommendations and assistance to the committee, particularly to the chairperson. The redistricting firm has determined boundaries in order to transition into Phase 2 of the process, presenting commissioners with the maps of the draft plans. Limon suggested that one solid workshop for the committee would suffice which should be convenient for both the commissioners and the committee, in which the committee would look at the maps. A follow up workshop could be considered for public input, with a final public hearing suggested to take place in September in which the committee would need to attend.During the meeting, the commissioners also approved the second reading of an ordinance which dealt with the city's bonds. A presentation on the matter was made at the July 12 meeting and following those recommendations, the city should be ready as soon as next week to take the next step.However, the earliest target date for the city to take action would be August 15, in which the city sought approval while savings are still available. Approval was given to adopt and move forward with the ordinance.The city also approved the suspension of the $1.00 surcharge fee at the Lake Sweetwater Municipal Golf course until further notice. The recent temperatures which have hovered around the century mark have resulted in slow play and with the dollar suspension, the hope for the golf course is that play may increase.