The Stephenville City Council will vote tonight on whether to raise the tax rate to $.4950 or maintain a rate of $.4850. The council has so far been spit on which way to go.
Council members Casey Hogan, Malcolm Cross, Doug Svien and Russ McDanel voted for an amended budget that included cuts that would balance the budget without a tax increase. Brady Pendleton, Alan Nix, Martha Taylor and Scott Evans voted against the amended budget and for the increase.
The vote for the budget was tied 4-4 and had to be decided by Mayor Kenny Weldon who voted for the amended budget.
If the tax rate is not raised then part of the budget cuts was a proposed pay increase for city employees. However, those employees will still receive a 1.6% pay increase based on the Consumer Price Index. The pay increases that were cut are ones which would be given to make the salaries competitive with that of other markets.
"I'm confident that there's room in the budget to raise salaries without raising taxes," Weldon said Monday, but would not say how he planned to vote tonight.
He said he is "100 percent behind the effort to try and provide the correct pay adjustments for city employees."
The public has been strongly opposed to the idea of a tax rate increase. Through two public hearings fourteen citizens have spoken and none have been in favor of the tax increase. According to a poll on the Empire-Tribune's website, 12% agreed with the tax increase, 77% disagreed and 11% said they didn't care what the council decided.
The council will meet at 5:30 p.m. tonight at City Hall. There will not be a public hearing and the council will vote on the tax rate.