MILOTHIAN — The Midlothian City Council adopted the 2013-2014 budget and tax rate with two unanimous record votes at its meeting Tuesday, Aug. 10.
Mayor Pro Tem Joe Frizzell said he would like the council to commit to pulling the tax rate back down to the 65 cents per $100 valuation it has maintained since 2007 after the road projects are completed.
“It’s important for me to specify what we’re spending this extra money on, and I would like a commitment from the council that when these road projects are complete, we pull the tax rate back down to where it was,” Frizzell said.
Though there is no legal way to bind a future council to make this commitment, City Manager Don Hastings assured Frizzell that the city staff begins each budget year at the benchmark 65 cent tax rate before making adjustments and will continue to do so once the road projects are complete.
The higher $0.658 tax rate will provide an additional $173,225 in revenue to partially fund two key projects – the Walnut Grove rehabilitation and right-of-way acquisition for the future 14th Street extension’s southern leg.
The council also increased this year’s budgeted funds for street rehabilitation from $266,659 in last year’s budget to $1,064,775 this year. Planned rehabilitation projects include Farm-to-Market Road 663 at McAlpin Road turn lane; 8th Street handrail repair; 8th Street brick damage repair; VV Jones Road two-lane rehab; Rehabilitation for Mr Bob Drive, McAda Drive, Rio Grande Drive, Primrose Drive, Frances Lane, Lonquist Road and Lon Hayes Road.
The council also voted to continue its longstanding homestead exemption of $70,000 for citizens 65 years of age or older and disabled veterans.
Hastings took a moment to thank all of the department heads and especially the finance department for a smooth budget process.
In other business, the council discussed and voted 4-3 to approve an ordinance requiring businesses and residents to bag trash for collection. Council members Jimmie McClure, T.J. Henley and Ted Miller voting in opposition of the ordinance, favoring returning it to staff for a rework and/or increasing the ordinance’s scope.
The ordinance originated from a community ad hoc committee Midlothian Litter Control Committee, comprised of Republic Waste (Midlothian’s trash service), Midlothian ISD, Chamber of Commerce, Keep Midlothian Beautiful and concerned citizens. The committee suggested passing an ordinance to require all residential and commercial trash to be bagged for collection.
The council discussed adding verbiage to the ordinance to require bagged trash to be placed in a receptacle.
Public Works Director Adam Mergener said the ordinance is a small step in the right direction and could be expanded to cover receptacles in the future if the council desired.
“I think it’s a pretty commonplace ordinance to require bagging and receptacle use,” Henley said. “I’m more in favor of including the receptacle and (extending the grace period).”
Mayor Bill Houston said in his personal experience, requiring receptacles also means adding an ordinance to require residents to store their receptacles when not in use.
“I’ve seen receptacle ordinances and personally I’m against it ,because people don’t put them up. Then you have to pass an ordinance requiring the to put them away and it creates a whole other issue to deal with,” Houston said.
Hastings said that in March 2016, Republic Waste’s contract will be up for renewal and the council could discuss a greater scope of services at that time and also reconsider amending the ordinance presented. Councilman Wayne Sibley made the motion to approve the ordinance as presented and Councilman Mike Rodgers seconded.
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