Public Hearings Held on Grants, Tax Rate

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – The city of Crockett has a new budget to work with following a meeting of the Crockett City Council on Monday, Aug. 14.

Following a public hearing on the proposed 2017-2018 fiscal year budget, an ordinance was put forward by Mayor Joni Clots to fund the budget for the upcoming year.

A budget message prepared by City Administrator John Angerstein stated, “From an operational standpoint, this is a very lean budget; with most resources being used to maintain existing service levels and to absorb increases such as an eight percent increase in health insurance. Under this budget, all of the capital equipment purchases are being funded through sanitary contingency fund and a small portion from our general contingency,” he said.

“The good news is that the proposed 2017-2018 budget allows this community to continue to maintain essential municipal services,” his message continued. “We have not had to lay off any employees and we have increased funding allocations to begin replacing water/sewer infrastructure and repair streets.”

With no discussion, the ordinance was unanimously approved.

Once the budget had been approved, a public hearing on the FY 2018 proposed tax rate was opened. No one spoke in favor of or against the proposed rate of 0.586094 per $100 of property valuation.

The FY 2017 tax rate for the city of Crockett is 0.533823 per $100 of property valuation and the rollback rate is 0.91966 per $100 of property valuation.

Prior to the budget approval, the council conducted the first two of four public hearings held on Monday evening.

The first public hearing pertained to the city’s participation in the 2017 Texas Parks and Wildlife Department’s (TPWD) Small Community Grant Program.

The second hearing concerned the city’s participation in the 2017 Texas Community Development Block (TCDB) grant program’s Texas Capital Fund – Downtown Revitalization Program.

GrantWorks Senior Project Manager Kelle Stubblefield presented presentations during both hearings to explain what the grants included, the amount of financing available, eligible activities and match requirements.

GrantWorks is the city of Crockett’s grant administrator for both grant projects.

Stubblefield explained the TPWD grant is a “… grant program to finance development and/or improvement of new or existing outdoor recreational facilities in cities and counties with populations of less than 20,000.

“These funds can be used to enhance an existing park by adding new activities or to replace deteriorated facilities,” she said.

Applicants can request up to $75,000 in funds and the grant contract is for three years allowing cities to budget for the match portion of the grant over multiple years. A dollar-for dollar match is required but the match can be comprised of cash or in-kind effort provided by the city, private donations or donations from other governmental entities, Stubblefield said.

Other than the GrantWorks administrator, no one spoke in the first public hearing and it was closed with no action.

The second public hearing centered on the downtown revitalization grant. Stubblefield informed the council this grant was awarded to “… rural Texas cities to make public improvements within a designated historic downtown commercial district.”

She told the council the first step was to designate an historic commercial district and provide a map showing district boundaries and the locations of businesses within the district. To increase the city’s score when competing against other municipalities, Stubblefield explained letters of support should be obtained from at least 50 percent of businesses within the district.

“The maximum grant request is $250,000,” Stubblefield said. “The applicant city is required to provide a match of at least 10 percent. The match can be cash, in-kind labor or the value of the materials on hand for use in the project.”

According to Stubblefield, the grant can be used for: activities required to eliminate architectural barriers for the handicapped; lighting, sidewalks, public parking lots; water lines, storage, pumping facilities and other related items; sewer lines, lift stations and other related items; road construction/renovation; natural gas lines; electric power lines and transformers and the purchase of land, easements and right of ways necessary for the project.

At the conclusion of Stubblefield’s presentation, local business owner James Martin voiced his support for the city to move forward with the downtown revitalization grant.

Martin, co-owner of Davy Crockett Drug, said this grant could possibly help alleviate the parking problem in the downtown area.

“Some of our customers are elderly and they have a tough time getting around. There is not a lot of handicapped parking on the square. On the days that they hold court, it is very difficult to get a parking spot,” he said.

“If there is any way you could use these funds to help alleviate some of the parking congestion that would be great for our business. I am getting a lot of customer complaints,” Martin added.

Before the public hearing concluded, Clonts and Angerstein recused themselves from any activities concerning the downtown revitalization grant.

The mayor indicated both she and the city administrator owned businesses in the downtown area which could be affected by the grant’s award. The recusal, Clonts explained, would help prevent any conflicts of interest.

As the meeting continued, the council unanimously approved a resolution of support from the city council authorizing submission of an application to the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs for the Texas Home Investment partnerships program.

The final item brought before the council pertained to a request from the Crockett Police and Fire Departments to close the 1100 block of Martin Luther King, Jr. Boulevard on Aug. 18 between the hours of 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. for a “Back-to-School Fun Day.”

A motion was made, seconded and unanimously approved to allow for the street closure on Aug. 18 and with no further business the meeting was adjourned at 6:24 p.m.

Will Johnson may be contacted via e-mail at wjohnson@messenger-news.com.