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Kilgore proposes 2-cent property tax increase

By Glenn Evans
Aug. 13, 2013 at 11 p.m.

KILGORE - Residents here will pay slightly higher property taxes in the coming fiscal year if council members approve the 2-cent hike they proposed Tuesday on a unanimous vote.

Taxpayers have two chances to add their own two cents to the discussion during public hearings at Kilgore City Hall on Aug. 27 and Sept. 3.

The council also agreed Tuesday to host an Aug. 27 public hearing on the $15.5 million daily operations budget that tax rate will support.

The proposed 42-cent tax rate is expected to pull in about $11 million from property owners. The rate would bring a $420 tax bill on a $100,000 home with no exemptions claimed.

"This just means the maximum we can go is 42 cents," City Manager Scott Sellers said of the tax vote in September.

The hike was added to the budget to meet an aggressive quality-of-life agenda that includes $7.3 million in capital improvements, Sellers said.

Those include the first year of a five-year plan of both meat-and-potatoes infrastructure investment and public recreational facilities.

A sports complex at the Commerce Street baseball field will draw $1.5 million, and the first of a three-phase walking trails project is budgeted at $515,000. The trails undertaking, which eventually will link the city's northern and southern edges, is partially funded with a $196,000 grant, the budget shows.

"Kilgore's tax rate has gone from a high of, I think, 68 cents in the mid- to late '80s," Mayor Ronnie Spradlin said. "The last time the oil field crashed, we spent our reserves down to nothing. Hopefully, this time, we will take steps ahead of time."

Those steps include routine maintenance requiring the purchase of $200,000 worth of hot mix for asphalt street surfacing and $330,000 worth of concrete.

The council also wants to extend sewer lines along Texas 42, at $557,000, and complete a $2.2 million water meter replacement program.

Other revenue-gathering elements of the plan include franchise fees totaling $792,000.

Residential garbage pickup revenue will add just less than $2.2 million to city coffers.

Day-to-day expenses balance revenues at $15.6 million and include $357,000 devoted to economic development.

Other general fund spending is led by $4 million to fund the police department and $3 million for the fire department.

Another $1.6 million is earmarked for street maintenance, a 6 ½ percent rise from this year's spending there.

Also Tuesday, East South Street resident Charles Woods renewed his complaint about loud music from a downtown club that he thought had lowered the volume on weekend nights.

Woods, who has said for about two years the city's noise ordinance is not strict enough, had told the council last month that music from The Back Porch had been at a tolerable level for about two weeks.

"But, we found out the bass amplifier had been out," he said. "And they bought a new one. ... I am fed up as high as I can go. ... If y'all don't do anything at all by Friday, I will have my own sound system in my back yard. And I'm going to play it within the law. I hope they like opera music."



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