City adopts tax hike, $6.3-million budget
Councilman J.T. Talley voted against the tax hike, but for the budget, saying he was "surprised" by spending increases. The council had held workshops and two public hearings beforehand.
"You can vote against it, but you can't say you are surprised," Mayor John Shoemake told Talley.
The budget includes roughly $2.6 million in general fund revenues, $2.6 million in the utility (enterprise) fund, and debt payments of about $960,000, the majority of which is for the town's sewer plant. The council will also contribute $25,000 to the new Municipal Development District.
No one spoke in opposition at two public hearings over the budget and tax rate. The tax hike amounts to 6.2 percent to 66 cents per $100 valuation for property owners, up from 63 cents.
Anticipating a drop in sales tax revenue and municipal court fines, the council eliminated four positions—one police, one library and two parks department—and trimmed benefit packages for city employees, raising the medical insurance deductible and nixing dental coverage.
The council also agreed to purchase a $500,000 bond from Citizens National Bank at an interest rate of 3.39 percent. Term is seven years. The funds will be used for street improvement projects.
Financial adv isor Jennifer Douglas said the rate was "excellent" and will save the county an estimated $23,000 in interest over what had been anticipated.
The council also contracted with Langford Community Services to administer a grant for installation of larger service lines leading into the sewer treatment plant on Beverly Drive.
Mark Jackson was elected to serve as president of the new Municipal Development District, with Bobby Pelzel serving as vice president and Mitul Patel as secretary.
Jackson said the group will meet again on Sept. 24. Regula r meet ings will be held at 5:30 p.m. on the fourth Thursday of the month at City Hall.
"Our primary focus will be on what's best for Rockdale," Jackson said. "With the loss of Alcoa, it will take a huge effort to rebuild our jobs base. I think it must start with cleanup and not just along US 79."
Jackson said he and board members plan to visit other cities to see what development efforts they have undertaken.
Sales taxes to fund the district should begin being rebated from the state early next year.