ITALY – The Italy City Council was busy during its regular meeting Monday night as it approved a budget for fiscal year 2011-2012 and issued certificates of obligation.

The tax rate, unanimously approved by council members, was set at $.964139 per $100 assessed valuation of taxable property – $.442302 toward maintenance and operation and $.521837 for interest and sinking.

The new budget, also unanimously approved by council members, is $2,332,966 with $1,136,800 proposed revenue and expenses for law enforcement, public safety, streets, court, administration and parks. The remainder, $1,196,166 is for revenue/expenses related to water, sewer, bond debt requirements and repair and maintenance of the water and sewer infrastructure.

Expected general fund revenues are:

$269,000 — Property tax

$374,750 — Business and franchise tax

$463,950 — Municipal court

$29,100 — Other revenue

Projected general fund expenditures are:

$376,108 — Administration

$24,850 — Fire department

$105,100 — Court

$441,242 — Police department

$46,000 — Streets

$70,000 — Economic Development

$35,000 — Street tax

$16,500 — Security

$22,000 — Technology

Expected water/sewer revenues are:

$1,171,566 — Water sales/sewer debt

$24,600 — Other revenue

Projected water/sewer expenditures are:

$306,650 — Personal services

$ 7,000 —Professional services

$390,823 — Transfers – debt service/water bond

$90,500 — Water expenses

$50,600 — Water

$60,293 — Sewer

$143,000 — Sanitation (DCI)

$95,000 — Utilities and communication

$16,000 — Insurance and bonding

$4,300 — Employee development

$32,000 — Emergency fund

The council held a public hearing to discuss the proposed budget with little input from the half-dozen residents in attendance.

Water improvements

In other matters, the council approved an ordinance issuing the sale of combination tax and revenue certificates of obligation toward water improvements for $2,650,000.

Teri Murdock, city secretary/administrator, said Regions Bank offered the best interest rate at 3.406 percent. She expects to receive funding for the project in mid-October.

The council approved two task order forms outlining the project in two phases.

The water and pump station improvements should begin in August 2012 with construction completed by June 2013.

The second phase, water meter replacement, will not begin until the spring or summer 2012.

Dean Carrell, water superintendent, said the meters are similar to the smart meters Oncor has and expects much more accurate readings.

The water improvement project will increase individual water bills $22 per month for the length of the 20-year note. Murdock said the increase begins Oct. 1.

In a more controversial move, the council approved the addition of water debt service and sewer debt service to church water bills.

Bryant Cockran, a member of Mount Gilead Baptist Church, strongly objected to the move, which council members passed unanimously.

Other business

In other business, the council approved an ordinance requiring all occupied residential and business commercial units within the city limits to connect to the city water system.

The council also approved interlocal contracts with the Texas Municipal League Intergovernmental Employee Benefits Pool and with Ellis County.

The council named Charles Hyles to the EDC, replacing Mark Souder Sr., who resigned last month.

Department heads Diron Hill, Dean Carrell and Murdock all presented reports.

Joan Grabowski, a local resident, addressed the council about two matters.

She first asked why people putting up garage sale signs are not required to take them down after the sale since there is a garage sale ordinance in place.

Mayor Frank Jackson said people are required to take down their garage sale signs after the sale.

Council member Rodney Guthrie said it is illegal to put the signs on utility poles.

Grabowski also asked why the council did not require annexation to those residents who receive Italy water and live outside the city limits, even after the property sells.

The mayor said the city of Italy, a general law city, cannot force annexation.