City Council approves max tax rate, Stephenville PD leadership reorganization

E-T staff report

The Stephenville City Council met in regular session on Tuesday, approving a maximum proposed tax rate and a leadership reorganization of the police department.

BT Rhodes, Adam Sharp and Waste Connections made a donation of $10,000 at Tuesday's City Council meeting for a proposed all-inclusive playground in Stephenville City Park. The inaugural Trash to Treasure Golf Tournament, which will raise funds for the park, is scheduled for Friday, Sept. 17 at Squaw Valley Golf Course. The deadline to register for the tournament is Aug. 26. Teams can register online at www.stephenvilletx.gov/parks-leisure/page/player-and-team-registration.

Monica Harris, the city's finance manager, presented the tax rate options to the council for consideration, indicating that her staff recommends setting the maximum proposed tax rate for 2021 at the voter-approval rate with unused increment of $0.4420 per $100.

Harris further stated that the tax rate, when officially adopted in September, cannot exceed the maximum proposed rate the council approves at Tuesday's meeting.

The council voted unanimously on the voter-approval rate and further approved a public hearing for the proposed tax rate to be scheduled for 5:30 p.m. on Tuesday, Sept. 14, in the city council chambers.

Police leadership reorganization

Stephenville Police Chief Dan Harris addressed the council about the possibility of an executive staff reorganization for his department.

The chief stated that he currently has one opening for an assistant chief and three openings for lieutenant.

Harris said he would like to combine the assistant chief position and one lieutenant position and create two captain positions.

"This will create an equal, two-tier second-in-command structure. One captain would oversee all administrative functions and one captain would oversee all operational functions," reads the agenda item. "The two positions would answer directly to the chief of police. Two existing lieutenant positions, administration and operations, would remain existent in the third tier of the SPD organizational structure."

Harris noted that making the change would save the city some money and the positions could be filled from within the department with current personnel.

The council voted unanimously to approve the change.

"I just want to commend Chief Harris for all the work that you've done since you've been here," said Councilman Justin Haschke. "Not only to help the taxpayers in terms of making budget cuts where you can, but becoming more efficient as a department. Thank you." 

Quarantine leave

City Manager Allen Barnes notified the council that due to a recent law passed by the Texas Legislature, municipalities had to provide paid quarantine leave for firefighters, peace officers, detention officers and medical technicians who are "employed by, appointed by, or elected to the city and ordered to quarantine or isolate due to a possible or known exposure to a communicable disease while on duty."

Barnes stated the new law requires the city to pay 14 days of quarantine leave and that the time cannot impact the employee's sick time.

The council approved the measure, which will be included in the city policy manual.

Financial Report

Finance Manager Monica Harris presented the following report:

• Property Tax: The city received $21,000 in property taxes in the month of June, resulting in $155,000 or 2.41% increase over funds collected through last June. The $6.59 million collected fiscal year to date is 99.16% of budget, which is fundamentally the 99.17% anticipated.

• Sales Tax: The city received $595,000 in sales tax in June, resulting in $930,000 or 19.73% more than the funds collected through last June. The $5.6 million collected fiscal year to date is 90.34% of the $6.24 million budgeted, which is higher than the 73.54% anticipated.

• HOT Funds: Lodging establishments have reported $333,000 in Hotel Occupancy Taxes through June, as compared to the $299,000 through last June. The city has received $69,000 of sports venue tax through June. The city has spent $375,000 in Hotel Occupancy Tax funds through fiscal year to date as compared to $134,000 last year due to the Day Tripper contract, gateway planning, and Moo-la Fest.

• Revenue (Budgetary comparison): The target budget for operating revenue is $22.5 million. The city received $23.1 million in revenue fiscal year to date, resulting in $594,000 over the target budget due to sales taxes and service charges.

• Expenditures (Budgetary comparison): The target budget for operating expenditures is $15.7 million. The city expended $14.9 million fiscal year to date, resulting in $838,000 under the target budget.

• Revenue (Prior year comparison): Operating revenue received last year was $22.04 million as compared to the current year's $23.1 million, resulting in a $1 million increase due to property tax, sales taxes, and service charges.

• Expenditures (Prior year comparison): Operating expenditures last year were $14.08 million as compared to the current year's $14.9 million, resulting in an $820K increase due to costs associated with COVID-19 prevention, stimulus grant to reduce the impact of COVID-19, damage claims, wages, professional fees, advertising and gateway planning.

For additional information about Tuesday's meeting, including the agenda and agenda packet, visit www.stephenvilletx.gov/meetings