Arissa Viering | 9/15/2020 | Goodday Mineral Wells | Mineral Wells City Council Updates | Local Government
MINERAL WELLS, TX – The Mineral Wells City Council adopted the annual budget for the fiscal year 2020-21 and a tax levy ordinance unanimously on 9/15/2020. The primary changes reviewed within the proposed annual budget include a 6.29% tax rate increase allowing for an increase in annual revenue from property taxes, a 2% raise for all city employees, new rates for water and sewage, and new allocations of support funds for infrastructure, downtown rehabilitation, economic development, emergency services, and more.
Randy Criswell, City Manager, the city council, and the head of each department within the city organizations worked together to ensure the accuracy of the annual budget. Throughout seven meetings, the city council reviewed and voted upon each item of the budget. A priority list was created by the city council within the initial planning meeting and included the following: streets, public safety, commitment to personnel, infrastructure, “clean up” of the city, sustainability of the airport, and continuance of library services.
PROPERTY TAX RATES:
According to Council Member Brian Shoemaker, the tax rate is the “same as last year, but property values are increasing across the county. In a way, it does affect some people if their tax value went up on their house – they are paying a little bit more.”
The property tax rate will “be increased by the adoption of a tax rate of
$0.6912/$100 valuation, which is effectively a 6.29 percent increase in the tax rate.”
The proposed tax rate for Palo Pinto County will not be increasing this year according to their proposed annual budget for FY 2020-21. However, the rate did increase a total of 5% for FY 2019-20. Due to the increase in property tax rates, “the Local Government Code requires the governing
body to ratify the property tax increase reflected in the budget by a separate vote than that to adopt the budget or set the tax rate.”
WATER DISTRICT ANNUAL BUDGET AND UTILITY RATE INCREASES
The annual budget for the Palo Pinto County Municipal Water District was approved unanimously by council vote.
During the development of the budget, a comprehensive study was conducted and reviewed by the city council. Council Member Shoemaker states that this study was conducted “a few years ago” and was recommended to the city council to ensure that the costs of infrastructure could be attributed for. The forecasted costs can be reviewed here.
CHAMBER OF COMMERCE ANNUAL TOURISM BUDGET
Raymond Greenwood, CEO & President of the Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce, presented the annual tourism budget for FY 2020-21 to the city council. Pertinent improvements made to Mineral Wells to increase tourism included new signs for the Fossil Park, an increase in marketing actions for the Fossil Park, a redesigned visitor center, virtual tours of Mineral Wells, the creation of a digital map of Mineral Wells, and more.
Overall, Crazy Fossil Park saw an increase in visitors since the new improvements to signage and marketing:
“Some of them were from Australia. Most of the people that came were from the Metroplex. It [the fossil park] does a great job of bringing people from the Metroplex,” Greenwood stated to the city council.
One of many future goals for the upcoming fiscal year includes the provision of Hotel Occupancy Tax collections to occur for Airbnb-style rentals. The Mineral Wells Area Chamber of Commerce does receive 95% of the Hotel Occupancy Tax collections currently. The Possum Kingdom area has continued to see success with Airbnb-style rentals within the recent year.
The chamber has allocated $135,320 for the upcoming year, a decrease of $17,980 from the prior year.
Following the approval of the 2020-21 annual budget for the chamber, Mayor Underwood stated:
“It looks like you’ve done a remarkable job in spite of COVID.”
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT CORPORATION ANNUAL FUND
Randy Criswell presented the annual budget proposal for the Mineral Wells Economic Development Corporation fund to the city council. On September 2, 2020, the proposed budget was approved by the MWEDC board. Projected revenues are expected to be $283,085 with projected expenditures of $91,500. It is noted that the continued services of legal counsel will be split between the EDC budget and the TIRZ budget beginning with FY 2020-21.
The EDC was able to provide emergency business loans to thirteen businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, allowing the businesses to recover.
THE GENERAL FUND
Although the transfer from the water fund to the general fund could not be reduced by $152,000 as City Manager Criswell had hoped, funding could still be provided for the following needs:
- $16,000 in Police Department for various needs, one of which is a Speed Trailer to aid in traffic compliance.
- $25,000 for a rescue boat for the Fire/EMS Department.
- $150,000 additional cost as SAFER Grant phases out (as discussed last year).
- $135,000 total for Economic Development/Main Street efforts.
- $3,756 for a fireproof safe for storage of Minute/Ordinance records on-site.
- $15,000 for a new mower for Parks Department.
- $9,000 for a multi-seat golf cart for the cemetery.
- $6,400 for software for Library
- Travel and Training budgets have increased.
- Maintenance-type budgets have increased to some degree.
Furthermore, a 2% raise was granted to all city employees. City Manager Criswell commended the above allocation of funds, especially in the midst of the COVID pandemic. Additionally, $70,000 was allocated for demolition and nuisance abatement for the “clean up” of Mineral Wells.
To review the entire proposed budget, click here.
UPCOMING NOVEMBER ELECTIONS:
The final consideration by the city council included the upcoming November elections. Council Member Shoemaker reports that Council Member Regan Wallace Johnson is unopposed for the Mayor position. A vacancy for City Councilmember Ward 2 will occur after the November Election. The council is unsure at this time “to fill that spot or let it remain empty until the citizens vote in a candidate in May 2021,” per Council Member Shoemaker. Council Member Jerrel Tomlin’s position remains unopposed as well.
Beth Watson does have one candidate opposing her within the November elections: Brandon Johnson, a “write-in” candidate. During the November Elections, Brandon Johnson will not be listed as an option on the ballot, but “may be typed in as a vote,” per Council Member Shoemaker.
Housekeeping Items Reviewed and Approved:
The approval of a Final Plat of 1.475 acres for the purpose of the division of property into five individual lots for single-family residences was approved unanimously.
A Specific Use Permit for the operation of a Bed and Breakfast located at 415 NW 4th St was approved unanimously.
A Final Plat being a subdivision of 0.767 acres located in Parker County was approved to obtain building permits for further development of the property.
All requests were approved for recommendation by the Planning and Zoning Commission prior to review and approval by the city council.
Former Co-Founder | June 2020-Nov 2020 | Graduate of Texas Christian University with a background in medical anthropology, psychology, and creative writing. Passionate about writing novels. Loved the Mineral Wells community and all that it had offered her and her family.