It appears Smithville property taxes and water and sewer rates will remain the same for another year.
The Smithville Board of Mayor and Aldermen Tuesday afternoon met in a workshop and then a special session to adopt the new 2015-16 budget on first reading.
A workshop will be held next Tuesday to give the aldermen a chance to make changes before second and final reading passage at a special meeting yet to be scheduled.
The new budget totals $7-million 625-thousand 323 dollars. Under the new spending plan, the property tax rate will remain the same at .6490 cents per $100 of assessed value.
Water and sewer rates are to remain the same. City water customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons of usage. Rates for customers outside the city limits are $7.50 per thousand gallons.City sewer customers will continue to pay $5.00 per thousand gallons plus the flat usage rate of $3.62.
The rate the city charges the DeKalb Utility District will remain at $2.67 per thousand gallons. City Administrator Hunter Hendrixson said initial plans were to increase that to $3.00 per thousand but because of a Chancery Court order setting the rate at $2.67 it cannot be changed at this time.
Hourly city employees are budgeted to get a 2% cost of living pay raise except for police officers who are due to get a raise under the eight step wage scale for all hourly employees in the department. Pay for the city administrator and police chief position will increase significantly in order to keep their salaries above the highest paid employee in the police department, the Captain, whose salary including overtime and bonus pay is budgeted at more than $60,000 this year.
Aldermen are concerned about the disparity in pay between some department supervisors. Alderman Shawn Jacobs pointed out that the Fire Chief and Airport Manager are paid well below other city department heads and suggested that they each should get a larger pay hike this year. Alderman Gayla Hendrix agreed and said she would speak with the city's financial advisor Janice Plemmons-Jackson concerning wage issues. Jackson helps prepare the city's budget each year.
Capital outlay projects include:
*Street paving- $200,000. That's about double what is normally budgeted. Hendrixson said plans are to mill and repave the downtown square area and to replace any old worn out water and sewer lines ($30,000) in the process.
*New sanitation truck and trash containers- $350,000
*New extrication "Jaws of Life" equipment ($25,000) and a new thermal imaging camera ($9,600) for the Fire Department.
Fire Chief Charlie Parker also requested a new rescue vehicle as well as funding for another paid firefighter and money to pay volunteers more for doing extra duties through an incentive program. The city has put those requests on hold for now but may revisit the purchase of a new rescue vehicle later in the budget year.
*New Animal Shelter- $75,000.That money will only be spent if the county appropriates $75,000 to match the cost of the project
* Airport: Land acquisition and other improvements (Mostly funded by grants)
*Water service truck (water and sewer department)- $50,000
Total general fund revenues are projected to be $3,689,250, not enough to cover total estimated expenditures of $4,370,393. The city plans to appropriate $681,143 from the general fund surplus to balance the budget. The water and sewer fund is expected to show a surplus of $8,155 by year's end with total revenues at $2,628,600 and expenditures of $2,620,445