Sunday, Dec 2, 2012
Garza County News

City Council Hears Budget Amendment Request

Orders election for May 12

Published March 1, 2012 @ 6:31 p.m.

The Post City Council faced a lengthy sixteen-item agenda for their February meeting.   After approving consent agenda items, the Council began discussion and consideration of a request from the Garza Central Appraisal District to approve an amended budget to cover the cost of pay raises for the District’s staff.  “The Appraisal District performs appraisals for the city, but does not collect taxes for the city,” City Manager Arbie Taylor explained.

Jeff Lott, representing GCAD, addressed the Council explaining that, taking into account an $1800 refund received by the city, their net cost for the amended budget for this year would be $490; $2300 next year.  “Shirley’s (Chief Appraiser) resignation caused us to step back and look at the job.  We realized the workload has probably doubled and the job warrants a pay increase.”  After explaining the process of finding a replacement for the outgoing Chief Appraiser, Lott acknowledged that the large increase caused “sticker shock.  And I understand everyone has a tight budget.”

The city manager asked whether the GCAD board looked at comparables in other areas.  Lott said that it was difficult to compare our county to others.  “You have lots of variables.  We have oil and gas and a lake.

“I had sticker shock with the amount of the raise,”  Mayor Harp said.  “My concern is with setting a precedent  for similar jobs in our community.  We have 2 city employees who are one certification away from being a Chief Appraiser.  Their salary is nowhere near this [increase].  It isn’t the small amount now, it is what it will be in the future that concerns me.”

“We have no intent of continuing this,”  Lott answered.  “Bottom line, the board [GCAD] fell asleep at the switch.  We should have done gradual increases.  We’re trying to catch up and right a wrong.”

Councilman Mark Short, who represents the city on the GCAD board, said, “I’ve only been on this board for a couple of months, but I can understand where they are coming from.  Based on the information of ‘why,’ I agree with this.

“Your timing stinks,”  Taylor said.  “I haven’t given any raises.  The county hasn’t given raises.”  Lott answered, “Nobody likes amending the budget.  We had no control over the timing of the resignation."

“This salary is not on the low end,”  Mayor Harp said.  “They [GCAD staff] will be paid very well.  You are not skimping and some times we do.”

“I want everyone to know that none of those ladies asked for a raise,”  Lott said.  “March 1 we will have 2 employees in the [Garza Central Appraisal District] office.  Who will man the desk if those 2 have to go out and measure a new building?”

“I wish we could do the raise, but not so much,”  said Councilwoman Pixie Grisham.

“I know you messed up, but to do this all at one time is a problem,”  said Councilwoman Anita Morris.  “Citizens will see the whole $63,000 [amount of proposed salary for Chief Appraiser].

“I know what Jeff is referring to,”  Councilman Les Looney said.  “Our company went through the same thing.  We were underpaying our hands and couldn’t keep them.  They took care of that so we can keep good help.  If you know something isn’t right, you need to fix it.”

“Another concern is if we get someone from another area [as Chief Appraiser] it may affect all of our taxpayers,”  the Mayor said.

In response to the Mayor’s call for a vote, the Council approved the amended budget for the Garza Central Appraisal Board with Morris, Short and Looney voting “yes;” Cimental and Grisham voting “no.”

The Council ordered an election to be held May 12 for Ward 3, 4 and 5 Councilmen.  Early voting  will begin April 30 at City Hall and will continue through May 8. 

Taylor reported that the bid for redoing the Main Street bricks came in at $130,240, almost $170,000 less than estimates.  The project was included in this year’s budget.  The Council approved these improvements and set a Public Hearing before the March City Council meeting.

The third item on the meeting agenda “Discuss/consider Michelle Craig from Slaton regarding a business proposal” was moved to the March agenda.  The city manager explained that Craig was ill and couldn’t attend this meeting.

Post ISD Superintendent Mike Comeaux made a presentation to the Council regarding a proposed bond election.  “After working with an architectural firm, we can create the information to let the community know what our plan is and how much it will cost,” Comeaux explained.

The Council approved the purchase of a used compactor for the landfill to replace the 1995 unit currently in use.  The money for the $150,530 purchase (not including a trade-in amount) will come from the Capital Replacement Fund. The City Council also approved the landfill project to complete Cell #10.  The City received 5 bids for the job with the winning bid of $339,205 coming in approximately $100,000 less than the estimate.  “The new cell will be larger and should last ten years,” Taylor explained.

A resolution “suspending the March 13, 2012 effective date for requested rate change by Atmos Energy” was passed.  No action was taken on agenda item to “discuss/consider TW Water Resources concerning waste water treatment plant effluent water.”  The company proposing this will revisit this at a later date. 

Taylor reported that the two issues that have caused the delays in an agreement on the White River contract have been resolved.  “We are on the cusp of an agreement.”

The Council did not approve the sale of two properties:  Lot 3, Block 155, Original Town of Post and Lots 57-60, Block 2, Hart Addition. 

A computer-use policy for city employees was approved and the March City Council meeting was set for March 8.  The Mayor read a letter that will be sent to Post City Festivals relinquishing 2 buildings built by the Dalby Unit to that organization.  The city temporarily held the small buildings until Post City Festivals obtained its non-profit status.  The buildings will be part of a Christmas Village planned by PCF. 

At the close of the meeting during the City Manager’s report, the Mayor asked for an update on work on the Main Street medians, “I get asked about this every day.”  Taylor reported that he is getting bids for this work.  Plans for the medians include all new pedestrian lighting from the courthouse to the railroad tracks.  "I consider the medians parks.  We can make those green spaces beautiful and functional.”

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