OVILLA — Improvements to public safety, streets and city facilities were the items at the center of budget discussion during the specially called Ovilla City Council meeting on Thursday evening.

The proposed budget is a break-even budget with revenue meeting expenses in the general fund. Revenue and expenses are estimated at $3,555,419, each. The city has $1,922,965 kept in reserve, which equals 197 days of operation. The new budget starts Oct. 1.

The council took a recorded vote and approved a proposed a tax rate of $0.68399 per $100 valuation. This rate is lower than the previous year rate of $0.70.

City Manager John Dean said while the rate is lower it will generate more revenue for the city due to an increase in assessed property values. The record vote passed 4-1.

Road Work

One project that is a part of this year’s budget is the reconstruction of Ovilla Oaks Drive and Suburban Drive. The total street reconstruction work is about 1.2 miles and has a cost of $270,000.

“Ovilla Oaks is one of the streets that is looking to be redone,” Dean said. “It is a mile long and hasn’t had any work done to it since it was put in 20 years ago.”

Public Safety and City Staff

The proposed budget is looking to add a police officer position and vehicle to the Ovilla Police Department.

Dean explained that the adding of another officer to the department is due to the growth the city is experiencing. The new officer’s salary is budgeted at $39,728.

According to the city’s website, the police department currently has 12 sworn officers and a secretary.

He noted that the vehicle was planned for the department as part of the city's vehicle replacement program. The cost of the vehicle outfitted with equipment is budgeted at $57,350.

In addition to the new police officer, a three-percent merit-based raise was budgeted. This increase would be given by department heads to employees they feel that are deserving of a raise due to their actions in the workplace.

Facility Improvements

The major facility improvement the city has in the budget is to take the fire department, police department and city hall buildings off of septic systems and connect them to the sewer system. This upgrade would require the installation of sewer lift station, which moves wastewater from one elevation to another. This improvement costs $25,000.

Other Discussion

During their meeting, the council was able to cut more than $120,000 from the budget. Items such as laptops for the council and the remodel of two bathrooms at city hall were cut from the budget because they were deemed not critical.

Dean stated that he likes what the city has been able to accomplish and feels that Ovilla is headed in the right direction going into the next budget cycle.

In other business the council,

• Set the two public hearing on the proposed tax rate to take place both at 5:30 p.m. on Aug. 21 and Aug. 31 at city hall. Ovilla Hall is located at 105 S. Cockrell Hill Road in downtown Ovilla.

• Approved to award the Red Oak Creek 12 inch water line contract to FM Utilities out of Midlothian.