Council reviews finances, projections
By Miranda Rogers
The bulk of Tuesday’s City Council meeting covered the review of the first six month’s revenues and expenditures, including fund balance analysis and projected savings for the General Fund, Utilities Fund, and the Airport Fund.
While the General Fund revenue was at 66 percent through the year, Finance Depart
ment Director Jeff Hinson noted the balances might be ahead because of property tax, which comes in early. Hinson said the City Manager’s percentage was “a little bit over,” due to bids that were miscoded, but that they would be moved over to other departments.
Other expenditures in the department were due software services being paid for up front, and an audit that was paid off in November.
The largest expenditure was civil service, because of a necessary civil service exam and legal fees.
Culture and Recreation saw a large budget variance for the Dr. Eugene Clark Library, where an air conditioner went out, and another difference was noted for the Technology Center, which is currently closed; phones and security system remained connected in that facility for the volunteer tax preparers using the building.
Building and Development was under budget, so amendments for demolition and mowing fees will be presented before council in future agendas.
Hinson reported that the Public Works budget is off, due to roofing expenses, but the City has seen savings of about $132,000 after moving EMS over to Seton, and combined with savings from health insurance, the amount comes to $328,195, which the Council can decide later how to allocate.
The budget was, however, negative $10,000 from an earlier amendment for the repair of a fire truck, which the City took a loss on when the grant did not match.
Electric utility, while currently under budget, was predicted to be right where it should be this summer, and wastewater is expected to increase with water use. Fines and fees almost doubled, due to credit card use and the department’s utilization of the Internet to make payments as easy as possible.
Sanitation has a $115,000 usable fund balance for the City, and a portion of that balance may be geared toward the recycling center and fencing upgrade.
With 30 percent available over required fund balance, the City is completely covered to take care of potential emergency. While the City Manager Vance Rodgers has not had time to review an engineer reports for repairing the county dam, he said he is confident that Lockhart’s seven water wells will hold up for a good while.
Rodgers proposed a tax rate buydown account, to help keep tax rate from increasing 5.5 cents. Other proposed use of savings included a potential grant match for a slab to be used as a fire department parking building, which might later be expanded into a second fire station. He also proposed combining the position of registered Sanitation/Code Enforcement Officer, improving carpet, paint and the parking lot at City Hall.
Also on the table are roofing improvements at the public safety building and the “old hospital,” and improvements to Lions Park.
In related business, Hinson also presented the Second Quarter Investment Report, as required by the Texas Public Investment Act. He charted major deposits and withdrawals, showing over $14 million distributed between pools and cash.
Hinson said the city is keeping as much as it can in the bank accounts to earn the highest percentage rate, and pools are allocated three ways to allow for backup funds, just in case one account freezes.
In other business, after overwhelmingly positive support for the Grand Prix Kart Race held in March 2013, the City of Lockhart will be seeking to fund a second event in March 2014.
Rodgers reported that many suggestions for improvements have been taken into consideration, including the addition of more fencing and modification to the amount of shuttles being used. There was also discussion of the use of $5,000 of the City’s hotel/motel tax money to cover advertising expenses and promotion.
Representatives of the Lockhart Chamber of Commerce stepped forward and volunteered their assistance in future promotions for the Lone Star Grand Prix.
The chair of the Chamber Board, Terry Wright, explained to the council that, because of the Lockhart Chamber’s expertise in promoting the community’s major entertainment event, the Chisholm Trail Roundup, the Chamber would like to volunteer to help with promoting the Lone Star Grand Prix in the future. In addition, he said, the Chamber offered a donation of $3,500 to invest in future advertising. That amount, Wright said, is equal to the proceeds the Chamber collected from this year’s LSGP, along with additional funds donated by the Lockhart Chamber of Commerce.
The council was stunned and appreciative of the gesture, which was greeted with a standing ovation.
Council will continue to bring this subject to future agendas for discussion and planning, but will go forwards with negotiations. Mayor Pro Tem Angie Gonzales-Sanchez noted the restoration of the Caldwell County Courthouse that is currently under way will be finished well before the next LSGP is scheduled.
In brief news, Mayor Lew White read two proclamations, the first of which named April 14 – 20 as “National Library Week.” White, along with members of the library staff and the Library Advisory Board encouraged the community to visit the library and take advantage of the latest resources and programs, including E-books and E-audios which have been made available to patrons for free.
He also proclaimed April 14 – 20 to honor public safety employees and their valuable telecommunication services in an awareness campaign for the Dispatching Department.
The Lockhart City Council routinely 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 Digital Cable Channel 10.