City Council passes final budget; approves tax, water and sewer rates

By TERRY MATHEWS, News-Telegram Writer

Sept. 24, 2008 - The Sulphur Springs City Council put their stamp of approval on a new budget last night, but the vote was not unanimous.

Charles Oxford, the newest council member who questioned the need for a program to provide grants to those business owners who want to improve the facades of their buildings, was the lone hold out.

"My vote was really against a single item," Oxford said during a telephone interview this morning. "We don't have a line item veto, therefore, since I am so totally opposed to the concept, I?had no choice but to vote no on the total budget."

According to City Manager Marc Maxwell, the city "basically matches property owners' contribution dollar for dollar, up to $20,000. We're really just getting started. We have two applications, both of which are small."

Maxwell said the grant program represents a total of $50,000 per year from the city's overall budget of $23,306,422.

Also included in this year's budget is $152,000 for a new roof at the city's service center, located at 1313 Hillcrest, near the airport.

In other business, the council set the tax rate for the coming year.

"We're set at 0.44 per $100 evaluation," Maxwell said. "We've been unchanged for seven years now, I think."

The council set the water rate at $3.03 per 1,000 gallons, which is a 4 1/2 percent increase from last year, according to Maxwell.

Sanitation rates are also going up 4 1/2 percent, which means residents will pay $9.48 per month.

Sewer rates experienced the largest increase, jumping nine percent.

"The rate increase is due is large part to the issue of sludge that we're facing," Maxwell said.

The council also approved a negotiated resolution between Atmos Cities Steering Committee and Atmos Energy Corp., Mid-Tex Division.

"This is a new type of rate increase," Maxwell explained. "It's called a review mechanism. The City of Sulphur Springs is in a coalition with 170 other cities. Atmos suggests a new rate. The coalition hires an attorney and negotiate with the company and come up with something less than what they originally asked for."

In other business, the council approved a rezoning request from Martha Stevens to rezone property at 627 and 629 Gilmer street from single family to heavy commercial.

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