City of Sulphur Springs Director of Finance Peter Karstens distributed a draft budget to city council members and then gave a brief overview. Positives for revenue included sales tax up 3.2%, sewer rates generating $160,000 more than the current budget, water sales are expected to meet budget, certified net taxable value went up 3.2%, sewer rates will rise 2% but water rates will not increase. The tax rate will remain the same. There is no inflation so employees will not receive a cost of living raise. Lower gasoline prices helps the budget throughout according to Karstens. Due to rosy revenues, Karstens said the city may not have to borrow money to complete engineering next fiscal year for the Wastewater Treatment Plant renovation. The budget will fund renovation of the police station. The city fund balance remains healthy. City Health Insurance is expected to rise 11.5%. Tax Increment Financing, which puts money in the city budget increased 11.4%. The budget has $1.5 for water and sewer capital improvements and $1.8-million for street upgrades. The council will consider earmarking some funds for sidewalks. The council will go over the budget line by line next week.
During the regular meeting that followed, during his Manager’s Report, City Manager Marc Maxwell noted the FM 2285 water line project was completed. Next up is a water line project on North Davis between Park and Glover. Then Rockdale Road north of I-30 will follow. Maxwell said the city business office at old City Hall is just about done. It lacks some outside concrete and landscaping and carpet inside. The council also amended this year’s budget so the large pavilion project can be done in a few months. Eventually donated money will pay for the project. The council asked TXDOT to conduct a study for a signal light at Highway 19 and FM 2285. There were several comments about how dangerous the intersection is. During public forum former city councilman and perennial candidate for the council Charles Oxford accused an unnamed councilman of trying to intimidate him by visiting his house a few days after the July council meeting. Oxford said it actually had the opposite effect as Oxford felt motivated in his efforts to confront the council regarding specific matters. The current councilman reportedly told him You will get nothing from the council, according to Oxford.