Public hearings held during city meeting

A couple of public hearings took place during the Sweetwater City Commission meeting held on Tuesday, August 14, 2012 at City Hall.One of the public hearings was held in regard to the proposed budget for 2012-2013. While no input was heard from those in attendance, it was noted that this budget will raise more total property taxes than last year's budget by $320,726, or 19.74%; of that amount, $73,002.55 is tax revenue to be raised from new property added to the roll this year.Commissioner Larry May asked about the breakdown of the new property, in which a copy would be obtained. Among the new property is the new apartment complex in Sweetwater, Mustang Heights. The second public hearing was for discussion on the new proposed tax rate of $.463 (46.3 cents) per $100 valuation for the 2012 tax year. City Manager Eddie Brown stated that this amount is lower than the current rate of 48 cents, which has actually been in place since 2006. The rate change came as a result of appraisal district values; again, no public input was heard.In addition, approval was given on a few ordinances which were presented during the meeting. The first was for the first reading of the Appropriations ordinance for the 2012-2013 budget, which officially sets asides the funds for the upcoming budget year. Thereafter, the first reading of the ordinance to adopt the 2012-2013 budget was presented. The final ordinance item was the first reading of the ordinance amending the 2011-2012 budget, in which the information was presented to the commissioners before approval.In other action items, approval was given to the Central Rate schedule for the 2012-2013 budget. Some changes were noted, including the rise in cost from $2 to $6 in accident reports. Other rate increases mentioned were the general admission fee for the city pool starting next summer, along with the construction and ambulance rates.Approval was also given on the authorization of city staff to go out for bids for a number of items for 2012-2013--fuel, oil and lubrication products, hot mix cold lay asphalt, ready mix concrete, and weed killer. Furthermore, the commissioners approved accepting the resignation of Carolyn Lawrence, the City Secretary/City Comptroller, which will go into effect on November 20, 2012. Brown praised and commended her work during her past five years; Lawrence will be pursuing other interests following her time with the city.The minutes from the meetings held on July 10 and July 24, 2012 were also approved, and while no action was taken, two bids were opened for self-insured group health, dental and life insurance employee benefits for the 2012-2013 fiscal year. Tommy Morris, who has been appointed by the city to analyze the bids, was in attendance to take the insurance bids in order to make a comparison sheet, which will be presented to the commissioners at the upcoming September 11 meeting.In the City Manager's report, the commissioners were informed that the Nolan County commissioners approved a payment totaling $779.50 to the city, which qualifies SNAP (Senior Nutrition Activities Program) for a 2013-2014 grant from the Texas Department of Agriculture's "Texans Feeding Texans" program. Over the past four years, the city of Sweetwater has received around $60,000 through the program.The mayor and commissioners were also asked to continue considering their nomination of one SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) board member for a three year term starting on October 1, 2012; the nominations will be presented at a future meeting.Also, the city's 2012 certified collection rate from the Nolan County Central Appraisal District came in at 96%--a two percent drop in comparison to the 98% rate for 2011.The City Commission was also reminded of two upcoming meetings this month that are required by Truth-in-Taxation laws. On August 21 at 9 a.m., a meeting will take place to conduct the second public hearing on the proposed tax rate. The following week--on August 28 at 9 a.m., the commissioners will gather to vote on the tax rate for the 2012 tax year.