The Stephenville City Council passed its budget Tuesday evening in front of a packed City Hall after Russ McDanel, place 4, brought an amendment to question that would balance the budget without the 5% proposed tax increase.
"Our city tax rate has never been higher. The proposed budget includes an increase of almost 5%. This is unprecedented," McDanel said. "The taxes in Stephenville have never gone to this level and our commitment to fair pay for our employees must be balanced with no additional tax burden on the citizens."
He went on to propose that the 1.4% ($116,666) increase in pay adjustments be removed from the budget and be placed at the top of the priority list at the mid-term amendment period. Also, that $98,359 be reduced from anticipated revenue from property taxes which would materialize from the tax hike. According to McDanel this would balance the budget if the tax rate was to stay the same. McDanel also advocated for "Code Red," an emergency notification system, be added into the budget for $12,307 and training for new dispatchers be paid for amounting to $6,000.
But not everyone agreed, including Scott Evans, place 8.
"The council's number one priority in this budget cycle was to fix our payroll problem," Evans said. "This won't do that."
The vote for the amendment ended with a 4-4 tie with councilmen Casey Hogan, Malcolm Cross, Doug Svien, and Russ McDanel voting in favor of the amendment. Brady Pendleton, Alan Nix, Martha Taylor and Scott Evans dissented from the change to the budget. A tie-breaker was then broken in support of the amendment by Mayor Kenny Weldon. After the amendment was approved the budget was then approved by the same voting results.
Dr. Malcolm Cross, mayor pro-tem and place 2, heeded a warning by saying, "with tax cuts, revenue will decrease. With decreased revenue citizens must realize that city services will also decrease."