City tax rate unchanged in proposed budget

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

July 8, 2007 - Sulphur Springs City Council members got their first look at a draft of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2008 during the panel's regular meeting Tuesday night.

City Finance Director Peter Karsten said the plan — which will likely undergo several minor revisions before the next budget workshop on Aug. 16 — would keep the property tax rate at 44 cents per $100 of property value. With the total value of property in the city at $794 million, Karstens said, that should still mean an additional $147,000 rise in tax revenue.

Revenue from sales tax has increased an average of 4.1 percent month to month compared to fiscal year 2007 resulting in an additional $110,000 revenue. However, that rate has been relatively flat since March. 

Franchise fees were up $68,000 over budget this year, and municipal fines are expected to generate $43,000 more than budgeted.

Water sales may not meet the budgeted prediction, however, due to the wet spring and summer. However, he also said if the weather remains dry through the end of September — the conclusion of the 2007 fiscal year — "we will probably make budget," he said.

The budget also calls for a Consumer Price Index increase on water, sewer and sanitation rates of 3.2 percent, the same as last year's national average increase.

One area that bears watching is the Special Crimes Unit, funded through a state grant. The SCU, a task force of officers from Sulphur Springs Police Department and Hopkins County Sheriff's Office, target individuals and criminal organizations that commit violent crimes within the city and county. Karstens said that grant is up for renewal early in the year.

"If the grant is not approved, the SCU will cease to operate," Karstens said. He also said, however, that there was an "optimistic feel" that they will get the grant.

The budget expenditures include funding for downtown, including Capital Improvements Program funding of $60,000 for utilities and $150,000 for streets. Another $50,000 is being set aside for inducements downtown, and $12,500 will be transfered to the tourism budget to downtown tourism-related activities.

The budget also calls for a 2.75 percent cost of living raise for all employees

On the downside, health insurance funding costs will increase 34 percent next year, and "electric costs across the budget continue to be a challenge," Karstens wrote in his summary of the draft spending plan.

By BRUCE ALSOBROOK | News-Telegram Managing Editor

Sulphur Springs City Council members got their first look at a draft of the proposed budget for fiscal year 2008 during the panel's regular meeting Tuesday night.

City Finance Director Peter Karsten said the plan — which will likely undergo several minor revisions before the next budget workshop on Aug. 16 — would keep the property tax rate at 44 cents per $100 of property value. With the total value of property in the city at $794 million, Karstens said, that should still mean an additional $147,000 rise in tax revenue.

Revenue from sales tax has increased an average of 4.1 percent month to month compared to fiscal year 2007 resulting in an additional $110,000 revenue. However, that rate has been relatively flat since March. 

Franchise fees were up $68,000 over budget this year, and municipal fines are expected to generate $43,000 more than budgeted.

Water sales may not meet the budgeted prediction, however, due to the wet spring and summer. However, he also said if the weather remains dry through the end of September — the conclusion of the 2007 fiscal year — "we will probably make budget," he said.

The budget also calls for a Consumer Price Index increase on water, sewer and sanitation rates of 3.2 percent.

One area that bears watching is the Special Crimes Unit, funded through a state grant. The SCU, a task force of officers from Sulphur Springs Police Department and Hopkins County Sheriff's Office, target individuals and criminal organizations that commit violent crimes within the city and county. Karstens said that grant is up for renewal early in the year.

"If the grant is not approved, the SCU will cease to operate," Karstens said. He also said, however, that there was an "optimistic feel" that they will get the grant.

The budget expenditures include funding for downtown, including Capital Improvements Program funding of $60,000 for utilities and $150,000 for streets. Another $50,000 is set aside for inducements downtown, and $12,500 will be transfered to the tourism budget for downtown tourism activities.

The budget also calls for a 2.75 percent cost of living raise for all employees

On the downside, health insurance funding costs will increase 34 percent next year, and "electric costs across the budget continue to be a challenge," Karstens wrote in his summary of the draft spending plan.

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