Members of the Waxahachie City Council met in a special workshop session to continue its discussion of the proposed budgets the 2013-2014 fiscal year.
Director of Finance Charles Harris presented the budgets for Waxahachie Community Development Corporation and the Convention and Visitors Bureau.
In the CVB budget funds are generated by the hotel/motel tax. Revenues from the tax are allocated 75 percent to the CVB and the remaining 25 percent to the Waxahachie Arts Council. Revenue for the CVB for 2012-2013 fiscal year is expected to be $399,525. This is $13,525 more than what was budgeted. During the 2013-2014 fiscal year revenues are estimated to come in at $394,800.
Expenditures for the CVB are estimated at $287,956, which is $3,044 less than budgeted.
The WCDC budget was then presented to the council for consideration. Within the WCDC budget are the budgets for the Waxahachie Civic Center and the Sports Complex.
Budgeted revenue at the civic center for the current fiscal year was $387,950, but revenues are expected to come it at $426,800. Revenues at the sports complex were budgeted at $233,000 and are estimating to come in at $180,190. The low revenue figure was due in part to rainouts of some baseball tournaments.
The only change to the general fund budget from the previous meeting held on Sept. 9 was to increase the water and wastewater funds each by 5 percent. Increasing fees for these services would erase a deficit in both funds.
Mayor John Wray inquired if any of the directors at the meeting had any service enhancements they would like the council to consider that would help strengthen their departments.
Director of Environmental Health Sonny Wilson recommend to the council the addition of another animal control officer. The cost for another certified animal control officer is around $17 an hour.
“I know all the directors have needs but animal control needs another employee and haven’t added one in more than 12 years. The calls and workload have doubled or tripled. The total number of animals adopted out in 2008 was 134 and this last year we adopted out 337,” Wilson said. “It is getting harder for me to tell my employees that they are not getting any extra help. We are really stretching service to our citizens if we don’t add another employee.”
Another concern Wilson brought to the council is the current animal shelter the city operates out of, which is 30 years old. Wilson suggested that for future budget cycles the council should look at upgrading the existing animal control center or possibly constructing a new facility.
Waxahachie Fire Chief Ricky Boyd presented a request that the council consider physicals for firefighters at a total cost of $25,000. Boyd said firefighters are exposed to many different elements during their time on duty. These physicals will help detect medicals issues before they become a problem like cancer.
Boyd suggested that the council consider the remodel of station three on YMCA Drive for a future budget cycle. Station three was built in 1986 for three firefighters and now houses six. Areas that would need to be remodeled in the station include the kitchen and the bathroom facilities, which has one shower. The remodel is estimated to cost around $250,000.
In addition to serving as fire chief, Boyd manages the operations of the city’s vehicle maintenance garage. Boyd recommend that the mechanics at the garage become Automotive Service Excellence certified and emergency vehicle repair certified. Boyd said these certifications would help to ensure that the mechanics are current in their training and knowledge on the latest repair techniques. The cost for this training and certification program is estimated at around $4,500.
Director of Utilities David Bailey told the council what would help his department is the adding of additional employees and the completion of several capital improvement projects on the water system such as rehabbing an elevated water storage tank. Bailey said one project the council needs for the future is the possible construction of a public works and utility service center. The current service center is antiquated and undersized.
Senior Center Director Jeanee Smiles said having a part-time maintenance worker would help to free up some of her time to do other needed work around the center.
Smiles said it would be helpful to have a maintenance person on site to help address issues quickly instead of calling someone to come out. Smiles is the only full-time and paid employee at the center and is aided by a staff of volunteers.
When asked by the council if she would be willing to raise the rates at the center to help cover to pay for the value that has been added to the center and for an additional staff member Smile said she would but not in this budget cycle.
Councilman Mark Singleton said raising rates at the center is not about being mean but it is to help justify the cost of operating the facility. Singleton said the senior center was much smoother to operate when it was over at the Optimist Building. When the operations were at the Optimist Building it provided meals every day to people who were truly impoverished and still provided the seniors with the chance to socialize with each other. It didn’t have a gymnasium but it allowed people to get out of their house because they were shut in.
Smiles then asked Singleton if he wanted the seniors to be healthy and have a longer quality of life. Singleton responded and said that he wanted the world to be at peace but that was not going to happen.
Smiles said for the past few years rates have been raised at the center each year. By raising the rates again this year it would cause membership to drop. Smiles presented a list of rates from other centers around the area to the council, which showed the Waxahachie’s Senior Center rates are higher than others in the area.
Smiles said she would like to get some projects completed around the center first with private funding and have other amenities in place during the year so she could justify a rate increase to the membership.
A rate increase would be hard to swallow for members at the center because a lot are on a fixed income, Smiles said.
The rates at the center are currently $55 for city residents and $75 for non-residents. The proposed increase in membership dues for the 2014-2015 budget year that Smiles suggested is $75 for residents and $100 for non-residents. The center has around 1,200 members.
Councilman Kevin Strength said he has been out to the center and seen how busy Smiles is and she truly needs the help. Strength recommended funding a part-time maintenance worker, which was adopted by the council and placed into the budget. The cost of this worker is $12,969. The council will formally adopt the budget at 9 a.m. Wednesday, Sept. 25, in the council chambers at city hall. City hall is located at 401 S. Rogers St.
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