Sulphur Springs City Council set the 2016-2017 budget at just over $36-million Tuesday night, August 10, 2016, in a special session. The budget much larger than the previous budget thanks to the rework of the wastewater treatment plant. They also approved Mark Spencer to design Cross Town Trail that will connect Coleman Park, Buford Park, and Celebration Plaza with a walking trail. Tax revenues will also be discussed in public hearings August 19th and 23rd, both at noon in the council chambers. The final approval of revenues will be approved in the September 6th council meeting.
The Cross Town Trail will be funded by a $700,000 grant from Texas Department of Transportation and a smaller grant from Texas Parks and Wildlife. The city will contribute approximately $200,000 bringing the total of the project to $1.1 million. Spencer, who will design Cross Town Trail, also designed Coleman Park and the skate park at Buford Park.
Revenue for the budget includes increased revenue in property taxes. The city tax rate of 44-cents per $100 valuation will not increase. City Manager Marc Maxwell said that if your property values increased this year, your tax payment would increase in proportion. Also city sewer and water rates will increase 2.25% in the new budget. City Finance Director Peter Karsten stated that the water fees are under the fees of cities of the same size in the area and that the wastewater fee is slightly higher than the those in the grouping. Cities that are larger are paying significantly higher fees Karsten stated.
In the new budget, Sulphur Springs Police and Firemen salaries will increase in proposals made in the new city budget. There will be a 2% cost of living increase with an additional 6% increase and a step plan for police. The step plan will enable the city to pay police officers based on experience. For the Firemen, there is an 11% increase as well as the 2% COLA. A step plan will also be introduced for firemen.
The city fire department will be purchasing a new truck at a cost of $425,000. Other purchases for the fire department will move their total expenditure for equipment to $519,000.
The police department will purchase three new patrol cars, six bullet proof vests, seven entry vests. Police Chief Jay Sanders pointed out to the council that the donates vests are ballistic vests for active shooters and will be worn over the other protective vests worn by officers. Along with other purchases, the total expenditure for equipment for the department will total $177,500.