City prepares for new fiscal year

Several action items were presented during Tuesday's Sweetwater City Commission meeting as the city prepares for the new fiscal year.Two public hearings were held, with the first hearing dealing with the proposed budget for 2013-2014. Tt was noted by City Manager Eddie Brown that city staff has been working on the budget since January of this year, held a budget retreat in May, and the proposed budget has been available for public inspection in July 9.In addition, this year's proposed budget does not raise more property taxes than last year's budget. With no public input offered, the hearing was closed and no action was taken.The second public hearing was to discuss the proposed tax rate of 48 cents per $100 valuation for the 2013 tax year. Brown gave a brief background in that last year's rate was 46.3 cents. This year's rate, however, is less than the effective rate of 49.33, as well as the rollback rate is 55.40. City staff developed the budget with the 48 cent tax rate.No input was given, thus the public hearing was closed and no action was required to be taken.Also during the meeting, the first reading on several ordinances was conducted, such as fixing and levying a tax for the 2013 year on all city property within the corporate city limits, which was approved.As part of this reading, it was noted that this year's proposed tax rate does not exceed the effective tax rate. Thus, a motion to adopt an ordinance, resolution or order setting the tax rate does not require the language about "tax increase," as stated 26.05(b) in the Property Tax Code.The second ordinance was for the first reading of the Appropriations Ordinance for the 2013-2014 budget, which was approved. Additionally approved was the first reading of an ordinance adopting the budget for the new fiscal year.The final ordinance was for the first reading amending the 2012-2013 budget. Changes were cited in various departments such as municipal court, the police department, the parks department and golf course--among others, and approval was given toward this action item.Furthermore, approval was given for the Central Rate Schedule for the 2013-2014 budget. Kirk Harris, the city services director, noted that no changes were made to the schedule, although some fees were added for the police department due to the recent ordinance regarding precious metals.Approval was also given authorizing staff to go out for bids for the following items for the 2013-2014 year: fuel, oil and lubrication products, hot mix cold lay asphalt, ready mix concrete, and weed killer for 2013-2014.And while no action was taken, proposals were opened on self-insured group health, dental and life insurance employee benefits for the new fiscal year. Representatives with the Tommy Morris Agency were in attendance to review and offer recommendations from the two submitted proposals during the meeting.