RED OAK – While the property tax rate in Red Oak will remain the same for the next fiscal year, water and sewer rates will see an increase. The council voted Monday night to leave the property tax rate set at $0.6490 per $100 valuation.

Water and sewer users will begin paying more for those services beginning in October. The staff recommendation was to raise water and sewer rates by 15 percent. For an average household consuming 5,000 gallons per month, this means a $5 water and $6 sewer increase.

In past years the water and sewer revenues have not met expenses, city manager Todd Fuller said.

“We do not want to give away water that we are paying for,” Mayor Alan Hugley said. “We cannot continue to sell water for less than we pay for it.”

The city has to look to its future growth of the city, Hugley said, noting that, to meet the demands, the city purchases water from Dallas to supplement its wells.

“The more we grow, the more water we will have to buy,” Hugley said, noting, however, that the more the city grows with new retail such as the Walmart store, the more tax revenues the city will gain.  

The budget as passed provides for $6,814,040 in the general budget and $4,161,151 in the water and sewer budget. While the general budget decreased by close to $43,000 from last year, the water and sewer budget grew by $467,000.

Finance director Miykael Reeve explained the needed increase, noting debt service for improvement was $200,000 with another $200,000 for sewer treatment. The city also budgeted an additional $26,000 in water purchases.

The city approved a request from Police Chief Craig Rudolph to increase the school zone times from ending at 4 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. Rudolf explained that with the high school and junior high getting out after 4 there was a need to extend the times.

The beginning time was moved up to 3:30 p.m. for those school zones.

“We will make the changes with signage so if the school district changes these times, all we will have to do is change signs,” he said.

In other action, the council followed city staff and the Planning and Zoning Commission’s recommendation and unanimously denied a special use permit request for a pay-day-loan business at a proposed location close to the new Walmart.

Because this type of business is not a retail store or restaurant, Fuller said it would require a special use permit.

“I do not see any reason the grant a variance to a non-conforming business that will take up valuable space where a business can go in meeting the zoning requirements and generate tax revenues for the city,” Fuller said.

The council unanimously approved a variance request by Walmart to allow it to put up a 50-foot sign on the east side of the highway, just north of Ovilla Road, after hearing there were other signs of similar height and P&Z had given its approval.

A request by Phillip Randazzo to use a non-conforming exterior on a dwelling on Red Oak Road was delayed. After hearing from Randazzo describing the siding material he wanted to use, Hugley suggested he get back on the P&Z agenda. Randazzo was not able to meet with the P&Z at its last meeting.