Gilmer City Council lowers tax rate
by PHILLIP WILLIAMS
Aug 31, 2014 | 1556 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The Gilmer City Council on Tuesday lowered the city ad valorem tax rate to .625178 cents per $100 valuation after approving a $6.2 millon budget for the 2014-15 fiscal year.

The cut is down about a penny from the current .635424-cent rate. City Manager Jeff Ellington told the council the Upshur County tax assessor-collector’s office projected .625178 cents as the “effective tax rate” - the amount needed to raise the same amount of revenue as in the current fiscal year.

He had told the council at its meeting Aug. 12, when it voted to propose the new lower rate, that the city would probably receive extra revenue from new property.

Of the new tax rate, .407213 cents is for maintenance and operations while .217965 cents is for interest and sinking.

During a brief public hearing at Tuesday’s council meeting, city Business Manager Gary Smith said the new $6.279,564 budget of jost over $6.2 million includes a 2 1/2 percent pay raise for all city employees. The total budget is about $35,000 above the current 2013-14 budget, he said.

Health insurance costs rose 10 percent and retirement costs increased by half a percent of the total payroll, Smith said.

The budget breakdown includes about $3.17 million for general fund departments, approximately $2 million for water utility fund departments, about $321,000 for revenue debt, and about $760,000 for interest and principal due on the city’s debt.

The council approved the tax rate and budget in separate 6-0 votes with Councilman William Hornsby absent. Voting were Mayor R.D. (Buck) Cross and council members Michael Chevalier, Jose Cavazos, Teathel Hollis, Brenda Jeffery and Brian Williams.

In other action Tuesday, the council authorized the engineering firm TCMC Commercial LP to design the city building which will house ETMC ambulances.

Ellington said the firm would perform the work for 60 cents a square foot, an estimated $700-$800 total. He termed it “money well spent.”

Also on Tuesday, the council accepted bids on three matters involving the city records building, which is now under construction behind the civic center.

The council accepted the lowest of two bids on the air conditoning/heating system, $5,950 from Young’s Heating and Air Conditioning Inc. of Gilmer. The other bid, $6,450, was from Right Temp of Winnsboro.

The council also accepted lone bids of $3,187 from Hill Electric Company of Gilmer on electrical work, and $240 from Precision Pest Services of Gilmer for termite pre-treatment.

Ellington said construction of the building is “going well” and it is a “good-looking” structure.

In other business, the council authorized the city manager to seek sealed bids for installing an automated weather observation system at the local airport.

Ellington told the council the current system is old and constantly breaks down, costing the city money. He said the Texas Department of Transporation would pay 75 percent of the estimated $150,000 cost of the new one, leaving the city’s share at an estimated $37,500.

The council also Tuesday approved allocating the same amount of funds as last year to the Gilmer Area Chamber of Commerce for Christmas lighting and decorations, including repair, hanging, removal and storage.

The city manager said the action will save city workers from dealing with the decorations.

In other business, the council accepted the monthly sales tax report with Ellington noting the amount is “up a little.”

Everybody wants to know if that’s because of the liquor election. I don’t know.”

Ellington was referring to city voters’ decision in May to legalize beer, wine and mixed drink sales.

The council also Tuesday approved excusing Mayor Pro Tem/Councilman Hornsby from attending meetings due to illness.

Ellington said a clause in the city charter necessitated such a vote for Hornsby to stay in office. City Attorney Mike Martin pointed out that three consecutive unexcused absences would result in a council member being removed from office.

In another action Tuesday, the council approved establishing a public information policy regulating the submitting, receiving and processing of requests for open records.

The vote essentially amended the current policy to show where city records are located.

In other business Tuesday, the council:

--in separate votes, amended the current budget to record $2,000 in insurance proceeds for a damaged radio tower antenna and to record receipt of a $2,500 grant from Walmart for the police department.

--in separate votes, accepted the monthly reports for July of the police department, fire department, and the code enforcement division.

--and cast the city’s ballot for John W. Fullen of Henderson for the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Risk Pool Board of Trustees.
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