Monday, February 19, 2018

Kilgore council approves budget, hike in tax rate

By Jimmy Daniell Isaac
Sept. 14, 2017 at 12:06 a.m.

Kilgore City Council has set its budget and tax rate for the new fiscal year, but only the spending plan received unanimous support.

Council members voted 5-0 in favor of a $15.4 million general fund budget. City Manager Josh Selleck said council members voted 4-1 to approve a property tax rate of 53.9 cents per $100 value valuation — an increase of 3.4 cents — with Mayor Pro Tem Harvey McClendon casting the dissenting vote.

For a Kilgore home with a taxable value of $100,000, the owner's city property tax bill will increase almost $35 — from $505.70 to $539.

McClendon "made a very short statement on the tax rate," Selleck said. "He agreed with the budget itself but not necessarily with how we funded it, i.e. the tax rate."

Kilgore officials said earlier that much of the property tax rate increase will help the city continue wage adjustments for municipal employees and hire administrative help to alleviate employees' workload.

Selleck said there was "very little discussion" about the budget, likely because it had been presented four times before Tuesday's vote at City Hall.

The city's budget includes $5.9 million in spending for water utilities; nearly $4 million for several funds including employee health, information technology and hotel occupancy taxes; and another $519,000 from the Meadowbrook Municipal Golf Course Fund for maintenance and operations at the city-owned golf course.

The budget includes nearly $1.1 million from the General Capital Project Fund for several capital projects — repairs to Fire Station No. 2, updates to the Comprehensive Plan, street reconstruction, pool refurbishment, rehabilitation at Martin Luther King Jr. Park, playground equipment and irrigation at City Park, plus city yard improvements, city hall roof replacement and a facilities needs assessment.

Another $1.15 million was set aside from the Utility Capital Project Fund to complete wastewater system and water main infrastructure improvements, according to the city.

In a separate matter this week, the city approved contracts with the Kilgore Chamber of Commerce for services for the coming year.

Selleck said the base contract of $162,500 affords the city the "full realm of tourism services" plus visitor bureau and marketing services. Chamber personnel also market the city's Main Street Program at an additional cost of $15,000, he said.

Council members also set aside $18,300 for prior year's budgets that were dedicated to tourism but never spent, and that money will be used for several one-time special programs, Selleck said.



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