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June 22, 2014

Council to again discuss proposed budget

GREENVILLE — The Greenville City Council has another opportunity Tuesday to discuss City Manager Massoud Ebrahim’s proposed “pay as you go” budget for the upcoming fiscal year, a budget which does not yet include the YMCA/event center.

Ebrahim’s proposed budget calls for about a one cent increase in the property tax rate, to help pay for the first phase of rebuilding streets under a bond package approved by local voters in May 2013. Two more phases are included under the bond package, one the following year and one the year after that and Ebrahim believes each phase will likely require another one cent tax increase.

Ebrahim said all of the current services provided by the city would be paid for under the current tax rate, along with $150,000 toward a new fire truck sinking fund, $420,000 toward the replacement of Fire Station No. 1, increasing the Street Improvement Program budget from $1 million this year to $1.2 million next year and $240,000 for employee pay raises.

Ebrahim is proposing the city put some toward major projects each year is better than having to sell large bonds all at one time, adding to the city’s ongoing debt.

The Street Improvement Program, which covers maintenance needs to about a dozen streets a year, would see increases each year, to where it would be $2 million per year in the budget five years from now.

Ebrahim’s proposed budget is based on the city’s preliminary appraised property value of $1.483 billion from the Hunt County Appraisal District. Ebrahim said the final numbers will be out by late July or early August and will likely be less than the preliminary estimates, which in turn would mean less money available for next year’s budget.

Should the council decide to proceed with the $15 million YMCA/event center project, Ebrahim said the city could proceed with the initial steps of the effort under a reimbursement resolution passed last year, which would authorize up to $2.5 million in spending, before the bonds for the project are issued. That would mean about another two cent tax increase next year.

The bonds themselves would be sold in the second quarter of 2015, which would add another 4 to 7 cents to the tax rate, depending on the total amount of the bond package sold.

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