The city council met Tuesday to discuss modifications to the fiscal budget before setting the effective tax rate and finalizing the budget in the next two meetings. The budget must be adopted by Sept. 10. Two public hearings will be held regarding the tax rate and budget Aug. 20 and 27.
City Manager Mike Smith explained that when the first budget draft was evaluated, they were $400,000 over budget, but were able to cut down to $200,000 by the town hall meeting. Afterwards, they cut some more and were down to $113,000 over budget at the time of Tuesday's meeting.
He explained that they could make four more cuts to get that to a "break even" line. The biggest cut is the lights at the first baseball field at a replacement cost of $80,000. The poles are rusty and the bulbs are difficult to replace due to rusty sockets, so the City had it in their budget to replace all the poles.
After looking at it some more, they determined that since it is now a little league field and the high school team no longer plays there, they can legitimately move the fences in and reduce the poles needed or schedule no night games to save the entire $80,000.
Also, the City had budgeted $4,000 for emergency radios and this was determined to be a cost that could be postponed. Smith cut $20,000 from the street repair budget that he had budgeted in and cut $10,000 to replace an ATV that had high maintenance issues. Smith says he still has more money in the budget for street repairs than he had last year.
The council asked about several other budget items with the biggest increases being in the fire department. New bunker gear is needed for new members and the cost is $34,000 for eight sets. Some medical supplies also need to be replaced at the fire department including blood pressure cuffs and stethoscopes.
A sliding glass window needs to be replaced because even though it is installed properly, cool air is lost into the bay. It is believed that replacement of the window will save electricity at the fire hall.
Training was also budgeted for $6,000 for new volunteers, seminars in Wichita Falls, Texas A&M and other training around the state, and several hosted here. Jacksboro firefighters sometimes do the teaching.
Council questioned the direct TV for the activity center, water department and fire department. Councilman Joe Mitchell asked the city manager to evaluate the packages and consider dropping them to the lowest value. Also, Smith explained that the City will pay the electricity at the
pool for one year, as agreed. The pool income is being saved in a separate account until the City takes over the pool management and it will be used for maintenance.
Finance Director Erika Hobson reported on the AT&T bill, which she was able to get lowered $800 a month.
A lengthy discussion ensued about the Special Services/Legal expenses with a combined departments total of $227,800, with $100,000 budgeted for the sheriff department dispatch. These expenses include janitorial services for all buildings, legal fees, engineering fees, matching grants, wastewater treatment, municipal judge costs, records management software, the state's portion of fines and collection fees.
Grants were questioned, with Smith explaining that most grants require matching funds by the City and are planned two years in advance. Grants are always sought by the City but are based on low median income, which Jacksboro does not have. However, Smith and Hobson have been able to write grants for particular parts of the city which have low median income.
Discussion continued about the $8,100 budgeted for a school resource officer. Smith explained that they get a $15,000 grant from the state which is matched locally, with the city paying one-fourth of the salary and the school paying one-fourth.
The in-house building inspector is begin considered as a full-time position with that person sharing duties as Code Enforcement officer, Fire Marshall and Building Inspector, contingent upon licensing being obtained.
Smith reported that utilities had increased in most departments and health insurance for City employees had increased three percent.
Council asked the manager about cost of living raises for City staff. Smith reported that there had been no raises since 2010 and there were some areas they could cut to fund increases for employees. Council members recommended Smith prepare two drafts, the first one with the discussed changes and cuts, and the second one with the changes and salary increases. Smith agreed to prepare budgets with a two percent and three percent COL increase for employees at a cost of $51,000 and $61,000, respectively.
Smith explained that they were able to allocate the City's water bill expense to show another cut from the budget of $12,000.
In earlier business, the council discussed increase of animal control fees and the animal control ordinance.
They also discussed roof repair quotes for the police department. Two asphalt roofs were quoted to cost $27,760 and $42,400. A metal roof with a low slope was quoted at $78,079. The company representative quoting this metal roof was present at the meeting and explained the roof would withstand 110 mile per hour winds, included no lap joints, was warranted for 20 years and it can be leased, allowing for payments over a two-year period. He also offered referrals as the nation's largest roofing company to install this type of roof. Councilman Kenny Joslin asked Smith to check into the leasing program by next meeting.
Council discussed and approved a disannexation petition from Harold Pankey for 200 acres on Highway 281 that was previously owned by the Jacksboro Economic Development Corporation. The request met specific guidelines for disannexation due to it being a sparsely populated area, uninhabited and previous ownership annexing. City Attorney David Spiller recommended approval. If it remains part of the City, water and sewer services would be required at an approximate cost of $90 million to the City.
Council also approved a request from the Jacksboro Garden Club for $600 of hotel/motel tax monies to host a district convention meeting at Fort Richardson.
JEDC Executive Director Lynda Pack gave a report on the pool donations. Shortly after opening, a donor gave $5,000 for the pool slide and then another donor gave $400. They are still accepting donations for pool accessories. She explained that they hope to have the pool installed before the pool closes and will remain open through September on the weekends as long as weather allows.