Council to bump tax revenue, water rates

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By LPR Staff
Editor/POST-REGISTER

During an unusually short meeting of the Lockhart City Council on Tuesday evening, the council voted unanimously to approve a budget for the coming fiscal year which includes not only an increase in overall property tax revenue, but a bump in water and wastewater rates for City of Lockhart customers.

Official passage o

f the budget, the final step in the three-month budget negotiation process, happened quickly and without much fanfare. Over the course of the budget process, the council hashed out a variety of issues with little public commentary, including the purchase of a new police vehicle and the addition of one patrol officer, and the salary for one new police cadet.

According to the city’s Finance Director Jeff Hinson, the total budget for the 2010-2011 fiscal year amounts to approximately $40.6 million. The lion’s share of revenues, just over $12 million, are generated from the city’s Electric Fund. Most of that revenue, however, is invested back into the city’s electrical service for generation and transmission costs. An additional $2 million is transferred to the General Fund to pay for other expenses, including payroll and employee benefits.

The budget also includes a tax increase from $0.7090 to $0.7292, an effective increase of nearly 8 percent, according to Hinson. That increase will translate to an increase in ad valorem property taxes of around $20.20 for the average Lockhart homeowner.

In connection with the budget, and in an effort to cover line replacement costs, well costs and fees charged by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, the council also voted to approve an increase in water and wastewater fees.

The increase, $0.10 per 1,000 gallons for sewer discharge fees and $0.40 per 1,000 for water fees, will become effective as of the Oct. 1, 2010, billing cycle, Hinson said.

Most customers should see an increase of less than $1 per month on their average billing as a result of the increases, Hinson said.

In other business:
The council voted to rescind an agreement with several of Caldwell County’s volunteer fire departments to provide dispatch services for the rural departments. According to City Manager Vance Rodgers, the agreement, which was originally reached in 2008, hinged upon the approval of Sheriff Daniel Law, and the cooperation of all the volunteer fire departments. Rodgers said one department had not agreed to the change, and therefore Law would not approve the transfer of services.

The issue may return to council at a later time.

The Lockhart City Council meets on the first and third Tuesday of each month at 7:30 p.m. in the Glosserman Conference Room at Lockhart City Hall. The meetings are open to the public and televised on Time Warner Cable Channel 10.

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