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Final Public Hearings For Budget, Tax Rate, Master Fee Schedule To Be Held At 7:30 p.m. City Council Meeting

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Sulphur Springs residents will have one final opportunity Tuesday evening to voice any comments or concerns they may have regarding the proposed budget, reduced tax rate, service fees and schedules before the council considers making them officials.

Unlike the regular meeting which was packed to include of a playground for Pacific Park and material for the College Street road improvement projec, among others, the Sulphur Springs City Council will only be asked to consider 7 ordinances at the called special 7:30 p.m. meeting Sept. 21 at the City Municipal Building.

A public hearing will be conducted along withsecond reading of each ordinance, from 2783-2788 and No. 2790. If the couci approvs them, the ordinances will pass a 2021-22 budget; tax rate; master fee schedule for costs, fees and rates associated with permitting, utility and other city services; setting sewer, water and santiation rates; and authorizing updated service credits.

Master Fees, Utilities

After several preventations over the past year regarding instrastructure needs, including to water, sewer and streets, the council approved increases to all three fees city utility fees as well as a master fee schedule to better keep up with costs of inflation and put raise funds to address more infrastructure needs in the coming year.

The master fee schedule, which includes utility services, permitting and other services passed only on a 5-2 vote at the Sept. 3 regular City Council meeting. Both Mayor Johns Sellers and Place 2 Councilman Harold Nash Sr. voted against the ordinance and fee schedule as proposed, due largely to the motion to double the residential street maintenance fee and the deposit required for rental of the new HW Grays Community Building in Pacific Park. The street maintenance fee will increase to $10 per residential utility bill to fund twice as much on road improvements, which will mean getting more done to slow the deterioration process, and the Grays building deposit will increase to $200, to be returned upon the renters completion of the checklist returning the property to its pre-rental state.

City water bills, according to the rate proposed in Ordinance No. 2785, will include an $8.02 monthly demand charge plus a $4.05 usage fee for each 1,000 gallons of water. For meters 4-inches or larger the fee wil be $939.52 minimum for 0-230,000 gallons of water, then $3.78 per 1,000 gallon usage of waterin excess of 230,000 gallons of water.

Ordinance No. 2786 would increas the sewer use fee to $28.10 for gallons 0-4,000, then $4.07 per thousand gallons in excess of 4,000 gallons. For customers who contribute higher concentrations of waste than normal domestic wastewater woudl pay based on a forma based on the cheical oxygen demand, suspended solids and voume of water used.

Sanitation rates are scheduled to go up 5 percent, less than the 6 percent increase charged by the contractors. The rate per dwelling unit, multfamily residential unit and mobilehome park is $13.07. The monthly charge for commercial collection will be $26.15 per commercial unit. Business rates would be charge per contain per yard and per day. Temporary dumpsters under Ordinance No. 2787 would be charged a $102.84 delivery fee and charged fees per cubic yards for roll-offs and compactors.

Budget, Tax Rate

The City Council will be asked to approve a $35.3 million budget, with 14.5 percent of the revenue from ad valorem taxes. Expenditures are budgeted to match revenues, which will fund all debt requirements, operating city government, and capital improvements, according to Ordinance No. 2783 Appropriations for 2021-2022 as posted on the city’s website.

As proposed the City Council tax rate will be reduced from $0.44 per $100 property valuation to $0.42692 per $100 property valuation, with $0.36241 designated for city maintenance and operations and the remaining $0.06461 applied to pay the principal and interest on city debit.

While the tax rate is almost 1.5-cents lower, it’s still expected to bring in 12.96 percent more in tax revenues than the 2020-21 budget. That equates to $507,107 in additional tax dollars to be raised in fiscal year 2021-22, 11.3 percet of that amount ($52,715) is new property added to the tax roll. The rest will come from tax payers in the form of increased property values, assessed for tax roles by Hopkins County Appraisal District.

In other words, the taxable value on homesteads has increased on average by 9.29 percent, which means an “average homestead taxable value” of $105,229 in 2020, now has been appraissed at $115,012. That means the tax bill on that property would increased by $28 in FY 2021-22 to $491.01, according to the Notice of public hearing on tax increase posted by the City of Sulphur Springs.

The City Council approved on first reading during the regular Sept. 7 meeting both the budget and tax rate, with the budget adjusted to reflect an increase in the street maintenance fee on city utility bills. An increase in the deposit fee to rent the HW Grays Building in Pacific Park from $100 to $200 too received approval of the council as part of Ordinance No. 2790, setting perits, utilty fees and services. The rental fee would remain $50 for the Grays Building; the $200 deposit would be returned, provided the renter completes the checklist to restore the facility to the original condition it was in when the renter assumed responsiblity for the new city building, paid part with the voter-approved bond taken out for that project, a new Senior Citizens Center and additional repairs in Pacific Park.

Updated service credits

The Council too will be asked to authorize updated service credits. Essentially, this is the retirement plan for city employees, through Texas Municipal Retirement System. The city’s contribution rate is 7.84 percent without updated service credits and increases to a total rate of 8.17 percent with adopted updated service credits. The city funded portion that will decrease slightly from 95.3 percent to 94.8 percent for FY 2022. The updated service credits enhance each retirement account of current full time employees for inflationary factors above specific thresholds. The additional cost of USC are estimated at $30,209.97 for FY 2022.

Sulphur Springs City Hall
Sulphur Springs Municipal Building
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Author: Faith Huffman

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