No new taxes, but values up about 5 percent
Kerry Craig | News-Telegram Assistant Editor

Aug. 11, 2004 -- Sulphur Springs city council members got their first look Tuesday at the proposed budget for the fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1.

That new budget calls for expenditures of $20.742 million and revenues of $24.830 million, and includes the use of about $2 million from reserve funds.

The new budget, according to City Manager Marc Maxwell, will not change the city's current tax rate of 44 cents per $100 property valuation. Taxpayers, however, will see an increase in their tax bills next year due to a 5 percent increase in property values.

The increase in property values bumps the effective tax rate more than 3 percent. A public hearing on the increase in the effective tax rate will be held later this month, according to the Peter Karstens, city finance director.

The 5 percent overall increase in the tax base in the city is attributed to housing sales and new construction that reflects the increases in costs of supplies and materials, according to the finance director.

"The real estate market has been hot here in the last couple of years," he said. "That has the tendency to increase values. The values of real estate here have been less that in the Metroplex which would then, as your economic activity increases, put pressure on those values."

Over the past year, the city's sales tax increased more than $156,000 but that windfall has been mostly offset by a decrease of more than $100,000 in revenues coming from municipal court fines.

The council has planned another special meeting for Tuesday, Aug. 17, for additional study on the city's financial plan for next year and will also consider setting a public hearing to present the final proposed budget before formally adopting it before Oct. 1.

One other business item on last night's agenda was to consider adopting a resolution requiring TXU Electric Delivery to produce specific information on the transportation and delivery costs of electricity.

In a meeting last week, TXU manager Danny Hodges had asked for additional time beyond the 15 days specified in the ordinance to prepare the information.

Information gained through the resolution would be used, along with similar information obtained by the other cities in a coalition of municipalities seeking to correct a possible overcharge in rates charged for power poles and lines. The action by the coalition of cities could ultimately result in a slight reduction in rates for customers.

On a motion by Council Member Lydia Bryant, seconded by Larry Powers, the council approved the resolution, with Councilman Joe Crouch voting against requiring the electric company to provide the information.

Other cities in a coalition seeking the possible rate adjustment have already passed similar resolutions in the case that City Manager Marc Maxwell said would be decided by the state's Public Utility Commission.

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