Monday night saw the beginning of budget talks in Stephenville as city directors discussed what they hoped to see considered for the 2009-10 budget.
Walter Wood, city director of finance and administration, addressed the council and began by giving a tax update. He mentioned that the sales tax for the area was up by 11 percent, as was the mixed beverage tax. Wood said the city is on track to “meet our budget” on both taxes.
Wood also mentioned that taxable property values have made some improvement since 2005, but that it was “too early to tell” what the final outcome might be, due to the lack of appraisal value information.
According to Wood, the city’s water revenues are “maintaining” and the outcome of that budgetary aspect will be determined by the amount of rain the city receives during the upcoming summer months.
“In my experience, the rain usually stops after Memorial Day, but we’ll see,” said Wood.
A report on the landfill fees showed that revenue for the year has already exceeded last year’s, thanks to the hail storm experienced earlier this spring.
One area where the city had a hard time maintaining budgeted funds was the hotel/motel occupancy tax. Wood told the council that the decline in this area of revenue is due to the economic situation and the lack of people traveling. He said the tax revenue generated by hotels and motels was down by about 50 percent and he doesn’t think that the city will make the projected revenue.
After the update on the city’s finances, Wood presented some things that are on the top of his list of needs. Among them is special training for the city’s clerk, who has taken over maintaining the Web site, although she has no formal training.
“I hope the city hall clerk can receive special training during the next year in Web design, editing, styling and Web administration,” said Wood. “This training would allow the clerk to train others within the city.”
Wood also wanted to address city hardware upgrades including a tape back-up device, GIS servers and domain controllers. He requested that the city consider updating the municipal services center by painting the interior walls and revamping the parking lot, which Wood says is too small for delivery trucks and employees to be in at the same time.
After Wood’s presentation, Fire Chief Jimmy Chew addressed the council members. Chew started with a request to remodel Fire Station 2.
“We have three stations and have had one remodel in 111 years,” said Chew.
Chew is hoping for stimulus grants to be used in the remodeling efforts, although he explained to the council that the stimulus money will likely be divvied out to higher priority stations. He also petitioned the council to replace the burn building and training tower. According to Chew, the set up and construction of these buildings is outdated and unsafe for training purposes. He told the council the cost of this project would be about $500,000. Chew also asked that the council consider replacing some vehicles in his fleet. These vehicles include an incident command vehicle, two pumpers and a quint, a booster and an ambulance.
Chew also requested some new equipment including a bariatric lift system, an electronic reporting system and an auto-pulse Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation machine. This machine performs CPR for medics, something that allows the freeing of an extra person to help on the scene during a crisis situation.
He also requested some extra personnel, including the addition of an assistant chief. Chew said that this position would add continuity to command and would benefit the entire department. He also requested some upgrades for the fire clown program, which teaches fire safety to kids in classroom settings.
Budget talks will resume next Monday at 5:30 p.m. in the council training room