During the Tuesday, January 8th Special Session of the Sulphur Springs City Council, the council heard a report from the Ark-Tex Council of Governments, Assistant Fire Marshall David James, conducted public hearings for annexation of two business parks, approved updating various electrical, building, and maintenance codes, discussed savings on tax notes sale and Certificates of Obligation, and received bids for the summer paving program.
Assistant Fire Marshall David James informed the council that an 18-month study has led to lowering the ISO ratings for the city. With a rating of 1 as the best and a rating of 10 as poor, the city has now been given a rating of 2. The lower rating will mean lower insurance costs for businesses and residents. The closest cities with a rating of 2 are Tyler and Sherman. The rating is based on emergency communication, water distribution and hydrants, and fire services. James said the prevention safeguards in place for the city have increased and that, too, assisted with the better rating.
Chris Brown, Executive Director of the Ark-Tex Council of Governments, informed the council regarding the work of the non-profit, state mandated political subdivision that encompasses 10 counties. There are 27 regional planning council of governments. The Council of Governments is responsible for the 911 system that allows first responders and law enforcement to locate addresses. They have introduced text to 911 in this region and two primarily rural regions nearby. The Council of Government also oversees financial investments in environmental, homeland security, criminal justice and the TRAX system. TRAX is a rural transportation system for the elderly and disabled. Section 8 housing, advocacy for the elderly, 504 small business loans and economic development in the region are also a focus for the Council of Government.
Sales tax receipts are up 10% and over revenue budgeted amounts. Water and sewer receipts are also above revenue budget. Thus, the city continues a solid course for income.
The Council unanimously approved all items on the agenda. The City Charter will see a few tweaks that will align the Charter with mandates from the state and cause the Charter to conform to existing practices. The Charter will be reviewed again in 10 years.
Three miles of streets will be in the summer paving program as the city begins the first phase of the 5-year program.
Initial steps for tax notes for the 2019 budget and a refunding of 2009 Certificates of Obligation will begin. The tax notes will be a reimbursement for what the city spends in purchasing the already approved fire and police gear, election equipment, mowers for the park, trucks used in city work and police vehicles. With interest rates lower, the refunding of 2009 Certificates of Obligation could save the city between $600,000 and $700,000 depending on interest rates in May. The final approval of refunding of the Certificates of Obligation hinge on interest rates in May of this year.