The Ennis City Commission wants to send a message to the Texas Department of Transportation and it is one of importance; to finish the Highway 287 Bypass within the time frame originally agreed on.

The city was notified last week by TxDot that the original plan of having the segment south of Highway 34 West (Lake Bardwell Drive) up to the airport ready for reconstruction by November 2008 has been postponed until November 2009. The decision comes after the city has already completed its end of the agreement by finishing construction on an access road on the east side of Highway 287.

“It is disappointing because the improvement is so desperately needed, there are too many unnecessary accidents and fatalities on that stretch of highway that could be avoided with the expansion that TxDot has agreed to,” City Manager Steve Howerton said.

The expansion will see the highway move from two lanes to a four-lane divided state highway, in compliance with the rest of the highway in the county.

“The city is growing and the expansion will be needed quickly. We have been trying to get this project completed since the early 1980’s and to have it postponed is not a good thing for Ennis,” Howerton said.

While TxDot still plans to construct the roadway, the plans that will see the expansion be put off for a year have led the city commission to contact local and state leaders to ask for their assistance in having the issue brought back on schedule.

Other issues voted on during the meeting were the budget and setting the tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year. The commission voted to approve two ordinances that will allow measures to appropriate resources for the budget to be be taken and to fix the property tax rate at .71 cents per each $100 valuation of property located within the city limits and subject to taxation.

The rate, while not being increased, will raise more taxes for maintenance and operations than last year's tax rate because of the increase in property values.

According to the outline of the budget, which is available for citizens to view at the Ennis Public Library or the city secretary's office, the budget estimate for revenue and expenditures for the city is in the sum of $15,706,550 for the general fund and $8,250,785 for the water and sewer fund.

Funds have been appropriated out of the general obligation bond interest and revenue bond interest for the payment of bonds and interest coupons that will mature within the year.

The commission also approved the increase in court fines to begin in October and to allow city attorney Toby Mash to take action on delinquent utility and ambulance accounts.

The Ennis City Commission meets at 6 p.m. in workshop, with the regular meeting at 7p.m. the first and third Monday of each month at City Hall, 115 W. Brown St.