The Midlothian City Council held its first of two public hearings to approve the 2013-2014 tax rate Tuesday, Aug. 27. The council's next public hearing will be held at 6 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 3 at city hall.

City Manager Don Hastings gave a quick overview of the council's direction in previous budget workshops on the rollback tax rate, noting that the average home value (of $153,876 per Ellis Central Appraisal District) would see a $13 per year increase in tax. Councilman T.J. Henley pointed out that this comes out to $1.08 per month for most city residents.

Hastings recommended a potential use of the rollback tax revenue, $173,225, plus $350,000 from road impact fees for 14th Street to partially fund the Walnut Grove rehabilitation and right-of-way acquisition for the future 14th Street extension's southern leg from Ashford Lane to McAlpin Lane. The remaining cost to complete these two projects would be $376,775.

“We can acquire the right-of-way now and take care of this now, so when we are able to begin construction, we will have it in hand,” Hastings said, adding that as development continues in this southern area, acquiring the right-of-way now would ensure the city could set it aside for 14th Street.

The council had previously discussed drawing from its reserve fund balance, currently at 190 days of operating cost, down to 180 days. City staff noted that the reserve fund doesn't need to be any higher than 180 days. Council member Jimmie McClure brought this up again and suggested pulling the remaining $376,775 from fund balance.

Henley noted that the $350,000 is the current total in the 14th Street impact fees fund, which accrues over time. He said by the time the council expends reserve funds to cover the difference, the impact fee fund will be higher than $350,000.

City staff also estimated it would take two and a half to three years to fully complete the 14th Street extension from Mt. Zion to McAlpin.

Mayor Pro Tem Joe Frizzell said that he was for approving the rollback tax rate, despite its strain on senior citizens who are typically on a fixed income, as long as it is used solely for this purpose.

“This will be used for road improvements and may lightning strike anyone who uses it for anything else,” Frizzell said.

The council directed city staff to present these figures at the next public hearing when the council will vote to set the tax rate.

In other action, the council voted to decline a right-of-way encroachment for additional parking spaces at Jimmy's Pizza, Pasta and Subs adjacent to 8th Street.

Before its vote, the council further discussed options to allow 10 head-in parking spaces or five parallel spaces, looking at how much space between 8th Street and these spaces would remain for a sidewalk and/or landscaping. City staff presented illustrations of these options and the council discussed these issues briefly before choosing to deny the request.

Most of the council members agreed that this issue stemmed from the longstanding dispute between the Jimmy's property owner and neighboring business owner about sharing parking. The council instead directed staff to present options of using the city's right-of-way space for a sidewalk and landscaping.

The council also held the second of two public hearings to finalize the technical annexation of four tracts totaling about 43 acres that were listed as outside the city's boundaries by mistake. The council voted to approve the annexations.

In other action, the council:

• recognized Constitution Week with a proclamation from Mayor Bill Houston presented to Carol Hull with the Old Chisholm Trail Chapter of the Daughters of the American Revolution

• approved consent agenda items

• postponed a public hearing on a rezoning for a planned development until Sept. 24

• voted to provide Blue Cross Blue Shield medical and dental insurance for city employees