City prepares to adopt new budget

The City of Italy held a public hearing Monday evening regarding the 2010-2011 operating budget.

The upcoming budget, according to Teri Murdock, city secretary/administrator, will increase a total of $750 for the whole city — not $750 per household.

Italy resident Joan Grabowski asked if the upcoming city budget had money dedicated to proposed surface water from the City of Waxahachie.

Mayor Frank Jackson said the city has been paying into the Trinity River Authority (TRA) for several years. However, he said the upcoming budget does not have any monies dedicated to the construction of a water line.

Grabowski asked if there was a deadline for the city to go from groundwater to surface water.

Jackson said there is not a “deadline” mandated from the state and indicated the state knows the city is looking for alternate water resources. He said the City of Italy is ready to begin negotiations, adding that they are waiting on the City of Waxahachie.

Judi Rowe, resident, said she was surprised to see a shortfall since the beer and alcohol sales were expected to increase the sales tax.

Murdock said the city has only collected taxes since April and expects the city to have a firmer grasp after a full year of beer and alcohol sales.

Jackson said the city should see a sales tax revenue increase of 1.5% over last year.
“Our revenue went up when a lot of towns (tax revenue) went down,” he said. “I attribute that to the beer and wine sales.”

They tabled two items, an ordinance to adopt a tax rate and the operating and water/sewer budget for 2010-2011. The council scheduled a budget workshop Thursday, Sept. 16, to finalize figures.

Italy resident Darrell Rosemond, Atmos Energy operation supervisor out of Corsicana, and Charlie Warren of Ennis requested approval of an ordinance for an Atmos Energy rate increase and a two-year extension of the company’s rate review mechanism.

Rosemond said the average residential gas customer would see an increase of approximately $1.40 per month on their bill.

He said a portion of this increase covers service line replacements in “risk” areas. This is the line between the gas meter and the street. Rosemond said any “leak in the line” is replaced immediately. Council members approved the request.

The council approved moving an overhead electrical service line to a power pole at Milan and Genoa and relocating a water line from the back yard at 913 Genoa.

Robbie and Jerry Jones, property owners, requested the city relocated these lines at a previous meeting. They plan to add a swimming pool in the back yard and the city’s water line runs through their back yard rather than down the easement behind the property. The electrical line runs across the back yard and cannot run across a body of water.

Dean Carrell, public works director, said the material to move the water line would cost approximately $6,985. Projected cost to move the electric line is between $750 and $1,500.

Jones requested the project be completed by March, giving the city six months to move the water and electric lines. Carrell said the project could take between one and two weeks, depending on weather. He said there were a couple of projects ahead of this one.

The public works director asked the council to approve the Gary Burden engineering firm to handle the community development block grant for 2010-2011.

Carrell said he felt Burden, a smaller, hands-on engineering firm, is a good fit for the City of Italy. The council approved the request.

They also approved the proposed budget for the Italy Economic Development Corporation (IEDC).

Projected revenue for the 2010-2011 budget is $192,523.03 — $3,029.63 carry over from the previous budget, $116,493.40 in money market, $70,000 in sales tax and $3,000 in interest rates. Estimated IEDC expenses are $126,600.

Department reports

C.V. Johns, police chief, presented reports for the police department, animal control and code enforcement.

Officers received 60 calls to service and made seven arrests in August. Officers worked/trained 1,405 hours during the month. The animal control officer received five calls, issued three citations and six warnings last month. The code enforcement officer issued 23 citations in August, sent 10 courtesy letters and took action on 14 complaints.

Manuela Martin, municipal court clerk, said the department filed 264 citations from the police department and cleared four warrants.

Carrell said he plans to update the public works report to reflect more accurately the work done by the department.

He said the department finally found a leak on Harpold at Travis. He said it took a little over two weeks but the leak was located and repaired.

Murdock said Ellis County plans to resurface Taylor Street, White Street, Clark Street, Dunlap Street and Dilworth Street starting next week, weather permitting.

She said FEMA has approved the city’s application for flood insurance. Murdock said Italy residents may now purchase flood insurance from any insurance agent.

In other business, the council approved minutes of the Aug. 9 regular meeting, minutes from a Sept. 2 budget workshop, bills, earned compensatory time and an interlocal agreement with Ellis County.

Bruce Utley, council member, was not present at the meeting.