RED OAK – Following a staff recommendation, members of the Red Oak City Council unanimously passed a record vote for a proposed tax rate for 2011-2012.

The vote is a requirement in the process toward approving the tax rate for the upcoming year. The proposed rate of 0.690 per $100 valuation is the same as the current year’s rate.

“We have no desire to increase the tax rate at this time We think we can work with this rate and not increase the tax rate at this time even though the budget will be very tight next year,” Mayor Alan Hugley said. “Our current budget is the lowest of any city in Ellis County with the exception of Palmer. We will be operating on a very lean budget.”

The next step in the budget process is adoption of the tax rate and budget, slated for the regular council meeting Sept. 12.

The council unanimously approved a proposed amendment to the city’s code of Ordinances, adding several sections to Chapter 8, General Offenses.

The added offenses include entering certain portions of buildings without permission, displaying a replica of a fire arm, dialing 9-1-1 when there is no emergency, possession of graffiti implements and solicitation to occupants of vehicles on public roadways among others.

Police Chief Craig Rudolf said the additions add to the enforcement ability of these offences by the department, giving several examples where his department could have filed charges if the offenses had been in the code.

One of the challenges came from a representative of the Masonic Lodge asking how that organization could be added to the list of groups allowed to solicit funds.

Hugley said there is a provision elsewhere in the code protecting the organization as well as others.

Also before the council was a request to allow check cashing and payday loan businesses in Commercial-1 and Commercial-2 districts. City Manager Todd Fuller said while some cities are discouraging these type of businesses, the city wants to place them in areas that would be appropriate.

The recommendation of the Planning and Zoning Board as well as the staff to consider each request on an individual basis with a special use permit within C-1 and C-2 areas was unanimously approved.    

Two employees were recognized. The first was Rachel Betru for her contribution for children’s programs. She was nominated for the Red Oak Public Library Award by librarian Theresa McNutt.

The monthly employee of the month award went to Jennifer Garner, deputy court clerk in the city’s municipal court. She was nominated by court administrator, Peggy Collins.