City reviews budget, portion of Oak Street to receive lower speed limit

The 2012-2013 Budget Draft was reviewed during the Sweetwater City Commission meeting on Tuesday morning, July 10, 2012 at City Hall.Several items were discussed from the packet by City Manager Eddie Brown on changes that would be reflected in the budget. Among the items were a $1 increase for general admission to the city pool starting next summer, along with a 3.3% cost of living raise for city employees. In addition, the trend in sales tax numbers will be seen in the new budget.Various departments that are under the umbrella of the general fund which were quickly highlighted included SNAP (Senior Nutrition Activities Program), the cemetery, golf course, library, auditorium, the museum and the health department.The proposed tax rate will be presented during a special meeting to be held on July 24, in which public hearings and Truth-in-Taxation meetings will follow. As they had just received the packet at the meeting, no action was taken to allow the commissioners further time to review.In other budget-related items, the commissioners approved the SEED (Sweetwater Enterprise for Economic Development) 2012-2013 budget. Ken Becker, SEED's executive director, was at the meeting to briefly recap the action made by the SEED board on their budget during their meeting held on Monday, July 9.Furthermore, several ordinances were read and approved by the commissioners. One was for an amendment in order to allow for a reduced speed limit on a designated portion of Oak Street--between the intersections of Oak and 5th Streets as well as Oak and 6th. The request was made by Ludlum Measurements, which was then examined by city staff.Safety was the largest issue in the request, which would also allow for the installation of crosswalks in the 400 and 500 blocks of Oak. By declaring it an emergency, the road work could be done immediately.However, in their discussion, the concern was raised that a change in one block would be too drastic. Advanced signage would be considered before the speed change--which would now be set at 20 MPH--and the commissioners changed their approved motion to include 4th through 6th Streets.Another ordinance approved was on the first reading of an ordinance amendment on the city's 2011-2012 fiscal year budget. Changes were made to allow for an extra hire in the fire department following an extended leave of absence from one employee. However, with the employee now retired, the change will be made to reflect the prior number of firefighters.Additionally, the first reading of an ordinance was approved to annex the 53.14 acre tract of land located northeast of the intersection of Hopkins Road and Interstate 20 for the new Love's Truck Stop. This first reading took place as the public meetings were already conducted on the matter.The commissioners also approved the entering of an agreement with the Tommy Morris Agency in order to represent the city as Broker of Record and to assist the city in evaluating competitive seal proposals. This approval then led the commissioners to approve city staff to receive the competitive seal proposals on self-insured group health, dental, and life insurance employee benefits, which will be considered during the August meeting.Approval was also given for the city to enter into an agreement with Nolan County regarding the costs for the Jacosoft Contract for emergency notification software, better known as reverse 911. The county will pay $1,291 per year in 2012 and 2013, which will cover one-third of the costs.Also, the commissioners approved the Investment Report for the quarter ended on June 30, 2012, along with the minutes from the June 12 and June 14, 2012 meetings.In the City Manager's report, Brown discussed the timeline for the tax rate and other budget issues. A meeting will be held on July 24 to propose the tax rate and set public meetings thereafter--along with the second reading of the annexation ordinance, along with several meetings to be scheduled in August in order to comply with Truth-in-Taxation laws.The mayor and commissioners should begin considering the nomination of one SEED board member for a three-year term which will begin on October 1, 2012. The member will be replacing Kyle Lawrence, who will be completing his time in office; the nomination will be discussed at a future meeting.Several upcoming events were also briefly discussed, such as the West Texas Legislative Summit to be held on Tuesday, August 28, 2012 in San Angelo. On November 13-16, the annual TML (Texas Municipal League) conference will take place in Grapevine. Anyone planning to attend the November meeting should inform Kelli Ferguson.