MIDLOTHIAN — The Midlothian City Council received a presentation on the 2012-2013 budget from City Manager Don Hastings at its meeting Tuesday night.
Hastings overviewed the budget in preparation for the next two months of budget planning and workshops with the city council.
In the overview, he focused on the primary goals of updating the city’s compensation of police and fire departments and city staff, “catching up” after the economic recession and increasing public safety through adding officers to the police force.
“Each budget kind of has it’s own flavor, especially with the last five years of recession,” Hastings said. “This year we were looking for a five-year plan to maximize our resources at the end of the recession. We’ve worked hard to make sure all of the critical assumptions in this budget are conservative.”
He reported several promising trends in the city’s economics, including an increase in property tax base, a third consecutive year of rise in sales tax revenue, increase in electricity franchise tax revenue, an increase in the number of housing permits (showing an increase in new housing) and a flat trend in medical insurance rates for the city’s employee coverage without a reduction in service.
“In the past we drew from the fund balance, which was available because of the wise decisions of past city councils and city staff,” Hastings said. “In this new draft we’re planning on not drawing from the fund balance, but using revenue from other areas to recover from the recession and move forward.”
He also noted that in the proposed budget, the staff recommends not raising taxes, but maintaing the same rate for the sixth consecutive year.
The city council will hold its first budget workshop on July 27 with a second workshop held Aug. 3.
A special called meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 7 will include a third budget workshop. On Aug. 14 the workshop will focus on setting the 2012-2013 tax rate. The first public hearing will be held Aug. 28 with additional public hearings, if necessary, on Sept. 4 and 11.
In other business, the city council bid a bittersweet farewell to City Secretary Lou Jameson who has retired from the position. Midlothian Mayor Bill Houston read a proclamation, noting Jameson’s years of experience, excellence and commitment to the city.
Many of Jameson’s friends and family filled the council chambers. They joined the city council and staff present in a standing ovation for Jameson at the conclusion of the proclamation. Jameson didn’t wish to give a speech, but shook hands with each of the city councilmen and thanked them.
Deputy City Secretary Tammy Varner has now assumed the position of city secretary.
In another announcement, Police Chief Carl Smith swore in two new police officers with an oath of honor.
“They do an oath of ethics when hired, but this oath of honor adds a personal level to their commitment to the law, constitution and the community,” Smith said.
Officers Brett Clifton and Wesley Keeling took their oaths with their family and friends present.
During closed session, the city council discussed and approved the appointment of new Planning Director John Taylor, who will begin his duties Aug. 20.
In other business, the city council:
• Conducted a public hearing on amending a city ordinance to allowing restaurant businesses in the 8th Street corridor. The amendment passes unanimously.
• A second public hearing addressed a Specific Use Permit to allow a restaurant on property in the N. 8th Street District at address 303 N. 8th St. The SUP passed unanimously.
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