City Council to approve tax rate, budget

Big Spring City Council will look to put the finishing touches on its 2011-2012 fiscal plan Tuesday with final reading of its proposed budget and ad valorem tax rate.The budget — which passed first reading Sept. 13 on a 6-1 vote — includes $1.5 million for a centrifugal sludge collection system for the city's water treatment plant, a project city officials are hoping will help raise the quality of water delivered by the municipality by lowering turbidity levels.District 1 Councilman Marcus Fernandez cast the lone vote against the first reading of the budget, while District 2 Councilman Manuel Ramirez Jr., District 3 Councilman Glen Carrigan, Mayor Tommy Duncan, District 4 Councilwoman Gloria McDonald, District 5 Councilman Craig Olson and District 6 Councilman Terry Hansen all gave the financial plan their approval.Fernandez said he voted against the proposed budget because it contained a hike in water rates.The increase — which will total approximately $13.25 on most residential customers' base rate — also establishes a tiered system that city officials hope will encourage water conservation during the ongoing drought.The council also approved first reading of the rate increase for city water customers on a 5-2 vote, with Fernandez and Ramirez voting against the measure.The council will also look to approve final reading of the ad valorem tax rate during Tuesday's meeting.The proposed tax rate — which the council approved unanimously on first reading Sept. 13 — is 94.95-cent per $100 valuation, a drop of 5 cents compared to last year's 99.95 cent rate. The proposed rate is also nearly 5 cents below the effective tax rate of 99.7 cents per $100 valuation.According to City Finance Director Peggy Walker, the rate consists of 62.1317 cents toward the municipality's general fund; 8.5 cents for the Big Spring Police Department Narcotics Task Force; 20.7249 cents for general obligation bonds issued in 2007 on voter approval; .7133 cents for certificates of obligation issued in 2007; and 2.8801 cents for certificates of obligation issued in 2010 to finance the newly constructed city aquatic center.According to Walker, the tax rate reduction will mean approximately $16.68 in savings for the owner of a average residence (approximately $41,688) and a $40 reduction for homeowners whose property is valued at approximately $100,000.Also during Tuesday's meeting, the council will look to finalize fee increases for the municipal golf course located at Comanche Trail Park. The increase would have weekday green fees go from $15 to $18 per person; weekend and holiday green fees from $20 to $22 per person; and cart fee for 18 holes of golf from $20 to $25.The council approved first reading on a 6-1 vote, with Ramirez the lone dissenter.Tuesday's meeting is expected to get under way at 5:30 p.m. in the City Council Chambers, located at 307 E. Fourth St. For more information, call 264-2401.