The Midlothian City Council took a unanimous record vote to move forward in the budget process with the rollback tax rate at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 13.

Finance Director and Assistant City Manager Chris Dick reminded the council that this vote does not set the final tax rate.

“This vote does not lock you into this tax rate,” Dick said. “You can always come back during the budget process and set a lower rate.”

Council members T.J. Henley and Jimmie McClure made the motion and each council member voiced their approval during the roll call.

Before discussing and voting on the tax rate, City Manager Don Hastings presented an overview of the changes to the budget as per the council's decisions at the last workshop. One of those changes included the purchase of minor fire tools and equipment, which Hastings explained will equip the new 100-foot ladder truck funded by the Midlothian Development Authority for the Midlothian Fire Department.

Hastings went on to note that the draft budget, calculated at the current tax rate before the approval of the rollback tax rate, had a $697,511 shortfall. He noted that the shortfall could be covered by reserve funds, but this continual cost to cover the debt will deplete the fund balance.

“We received an update on our debt model for a change of $511,000,” he said, noting that this change in addition to other approved expenditures totaled the shortfall. “We can cover this shortfall with money from the general fund, which would lower it to 184 days (of operating cost). Though staff has projected the next four budget years will see the fund balance decline rapidly as we take on more debt.”

Hastings then moved into the street maintenance and street rehabilitation plans handed out to the council, which illustrated different options and a five-year plan designed by Public Works Director Adam Mergener and Executive Director of Engineering and Utilities Mike Adams.

Henley brought up the cost of rehabilitating Walnut Grove Road, which Hastings said would not be covered in the plan and would require a bond vote to fund.

“You're asking us to approve a $19 million budget and told us we had to wait on the numbers, now we're still waiting,” Henley said. “I want to see those numbers.”

Councilman Mike Rodgers echoed Henley's remarks, and Mayor Bill Houston noted that 45 percent of the road is serviced by the county, which has slowed up calculating the cost.

In other business, the council approved a specific use permit to allow Applied Natural Gas Fields to construct a liquid natural gas plant in Midlothian's RailPort industrial park.

A representative for the company noted that Midlothian was the best location for their facility because of its “robust water capacity compared to others throughout the state.”

In other action, the council:

• witnessed a presentation to the Midlothian Police Department by the Cedar Hill Rotary Club for assistance in its annual Head for the Hills Bike Rally

• heard from agencies funded by the city as part of the council's budget workshop

• held a the first of two public hearings and took no action on four technical annexations to correct errors in mapping

• approved rezoning of about 264 acres in RailPort from mixed medium industrial and heavy industrial to all heavy industrial in anticipation of a new industry

• tabled a public hearing on increasing standards for residential development until a roundtable with developers can be held

• approved an initial formal offer of $71,200 to Kenneth Thompson to acquire a parcel of land for drainage purposes at the Mid-Way Regional Airport. Dick said funds had already been provided to TxDOT, so there may or may not be any additional cost

• approved an ordinance amendment to update to the 2009 International Residential Code

• tabled the discussion to allow right-of-way encroachment for 10 parking spaces at Jimmy's Restaurant at 300 N. 8th St.

• approved minutes from its meetings on July 23 and 26

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