City council adopts budget, approves water bond

The Italy City Council was busy Monday night as they approved a budget for the fiscal year 2011-2012 and issued certificates of obligation at its regular meeting Monday night.

The tax rate (#11-0912-05), 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 improvementsIn other matters, the council approved an ordinance (#11-0912-01) 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 of 2012 with construction completed by June of 2013.

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

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

This water improvement project will increase individual water bills $22 per month for the length of the 20-year note per ordinance #110912-02. Murdock said this 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 the Mt. Gilead Baptist Church, strongly objected to this move, which council members passed unanimously.

Other business
In other business, the council approved an ordnance (#11-0912-03) requiring all occupied residential and business commercial units within the city limits to connect to the city water system.

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

They 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 from their department.

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.

Ms. Grabowski also asked why the council did not require annexation to those residents that 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.