Tight budget, skate park top city talks

Municipal court, tax revenues slow with economy
By KEN ESTEN COOKE Reporter Publisher

Skate park, at corner of Milam and Baxter Streets, has had many improvements, but Mayor John Shoemake said restrooms and moving the “bowl” (foreground) were part of original agreement. Skate park, at corner of Milam and Baxter Streets, has had many improvements, but Mayor John Shoemake said restrooms and moving the “bowl” (foreground) were part of original agreement. “This is not unique to Rockdale. Other cities are in the same boat.”

That’s what City Manager Kelvin Knauf told council members at Monday’s monthly meeting when he reported that municipal court revenue was down ab out $40,0 0 0 a nd ad valorem (proper t y) ta xes were estimated to be $14,000 less than the previous year.

“We’ll look at the numbers again in April,” Knauf said. “But predicated on our sales tax receipts, we don’t anticipate any layoffs or cuts in service.”

Knauf said property taxes were up 5 percent, but that was still lower than the 7 percent the council raised the rate. Municipal court fines are down due to fewer temporary workers being in town, as the Sandow 5 power plant construction project was completed.

Knauf said the city could pay more of his salary and the city treasurer’s salary from the enterprise budget, instead of the town’s general revenues fund.

Police report

Police Chief Thomas Harris said his department had zero complaints of racial d iscr iminat ion a nd his annual report numbers, which trended along state averages, bore that out.

“We’re definitely not discriminating,” Harris said. “ There are by far more Caucasians suspects issued searches than any minority group,” Harris said. Mayor John Shoemake said it’s interesting that the Department of Public Safety still lumps Hispanic suspects in with White in its reports, where municipalities separate them.

Skate Park

The council tabled acting on a recommendation from the Parks Board regardi ng an agreement with the Rockdale Skate Plaza, located on Mill and Baxter Streets.

The parks board recommended leaving the facility “as is,” but Shoemake said the agreement made years ago stipulates that a temporary “bowl” was to be moved and made permanent and that the Skate Park Association was to add restrooms.

“I’m in favor of leaving the park, but it needs restrooms and we need to move that bowl,” Shoemake said. “That was an agreement made with the Fair Association, which owns the land. Now the integrity of this council is at question.”

The Rockdale Skate Park Association, which was formed with enthusiastic parents and young skateboarders, has dw indled to one person—Lin Perry, who said he has sunk thousands of dollars into the project to add shade structures, pour concrete and place an iron bridge which was to connect the skate park to a parking area across a drainage ditch. Perry was not at Monday’s meeting.

Shoemake said the original agreement had the park confined to a 100-by-110-foot plot on a corner.

The council, Perry and Parks Board w ill take up the issue again.

The council also: • Swore in west ward representative Doug Calame. Calame served as a council rep for six years in Wortham, where he also served one three-year term as mayor.

• Established procedures for the 2010 general election to elect one mayor, one west ward and one east ward representative. West ward’s Tom Fisher filed for re-election on Monday, but J.T. Talley had not re-filed as of press time. Mayor John Shoemake has said he will not seek re-election. Construction company owner Collier Perry has filed for that position.

• Established a joint-election agreement with the county and school district.

• Proclaimed March as Clean Up-Fix Up Month and scheduled a citywide cleanup day for March 27th. The city will not collect tires, batteries, motor oil or wet paint, but free chipping will be offered at the Mill Street water plant.

• Issued a subdivision variance request for lots on Bowser Street to Mark Muston.

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