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July 21, 2013

Council to get first look at next city budget

GREENVILLE — The Greenville City Council will get its first look Tuesday at the proposed city budget developed by Interim City Manager Massoud Ebrahim.

The budget includes an increase in the amount to be spent on maintaining city streets, as well as a pay increase for city employees, but does not include a tax rate increase despite a significant shortfall in revenue.

Ebrahim plans to present details of the budget to the Council during Tuesday’s work session, starting at 5 p.m. in the Municipal Building, 2821 Washington Street. The regular agenda begins at 6 p.m. Tuesday.

A new city budget and tax rate must be adopted before the start of the next fiscal year on October 1. The current City of Greenville budget is funded through a property tax rate of 69.9 cents per $100 valuation, unchanged from the previous fiscal year.

Ebrahim proposes to maintain the rate for the 2013/14 fiscal year, despite an estimated shortfall of $350,000 in revenue due to a decrease in the city’s taxable assessed value, according to preliminary numbers from the Hunt County Tax Appraisal District. The tax rolls are expected to be issued on Thursday.

And while sales tax rebate revenue is up for the year to date, Ebrahim said the city will have to send almost $85,000 back to the Texas Comptroller’s Office per year, as a result of a recent ruling by the Texas Supreme Court.

The budget calls for an increase in the amount spent on the annual maintenance program for local streets, from $900,000 this year to $1 million in the coming year, as well as an unspecified pay increase for municipal employees.

In preparing the budget, Ebrahim said he cut almost $1.35 million in requests from department heads and has proposed leaving vacant all current open positions, pending evaluations of the positions.

Ebrahim has also proposed eliminating the $50,000 contract with Strategic Government Resources (SGR). Former Community Relations Manager and Public Information Officer Lori Philyaw left her position with the City of Greenville to join SGR in November 2012, but has continued to serve as a public relations consultant for the city.

Ebrahim is calling for cutting the $60,000 contract with the Texas Department of Transportation for additional mowing and transferring the $40,000 in costs for lot abatement mowing from the general fund to the solid waste fund.

Ebrahim said he wanted to maintain the current tax rate in order to cushion the blow of anticipated increased in the city’s debt service tax rate — expected to be between 7 and 12 cents through 2017 — to pay for a new YMCA/event center and the reconstruction of multiple streets, both of which were approved by local voters in May.

 

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