City Revenues Discussed Ahead of Budget Preparations

By Will Johnson
Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – The Crockett City Council took the first steps towards revising the city’s charter during a meeting held on Monday, June 4.

By a vote of 3-2, the council approved a measure to hire Edmonds and Associates Public Affairs Consultants “… to assist in the revision of the Crockett Home Rule Charter with funding coming out of the city council contingency account.”

As the charter discussion began, Mayor Joni Clonts introduced Don Edmonds with Edmonds and Associates Public Affairs Consultants.

After providing a brief background sketch, Edmonds explained he had reviewed the city’s charter and added “… it’s not the worst I’ve ever seen. That distinction goes to another city here in East Texas whose name I will not specify.”

“Your charter is not in terrible condition,” he continued, “but it is badly outdated in some very significant ways.”

Edmonds explained the revision process followed a pattern which would hopefully have it ready for a vote by May of 2019.

“Over the years, I have developed an approach which moves right along and we would begin work now, including discussions at city hall and then moving to a citizens’ advisory committee,” he said.

The committee’s work should be completed by the end of fall in 2018, Edmonds explained, and then their recommendations would be brought before the council for approval.

“Ordinarily these projects begin in the summer – about where we are right now – the summer before the spring elections of next year,” he said.

In regard to the advisory committee, Edmonds recommended the size be set at 13. This would allow each council member to appoint two members while the mayor would appoint three.

“It is very important to understand that the citizens’ commission only has the power to make recommendations. The final decision about what goes on the ballot rests with this body (the council) here,” he explained.

The cost of the service would be between $20,000 and $25,000, according to Edmonds.

Following Edmonds’ presentation, City Administrator John Angerstein informed the council the funds had previously been budgeted for this revision.

After several more minutes of discussion, a motion was made and seconded to use Edmonds and Associates to help with the charter revision. The measure passed 3-2, with Councilmen Ernest Jackson and Darrel Jones voting in opposition.

Once the measure had passed, Jones said he felt the charter should take a backseat to repairing the municipality’s streets while Jackson echoed the remarks made by Jones.

The next agenda item addressed by the council concerned a discussion of park projects and improvements.

Angerstein said the parks advisory board had met last week and made several recommendations.

The first of these was to remove the old wooden playground structure and replace it with a new playground set. The second recommendation concerned the city swimming pool.

Angerstein said the recommendation was to either fill in the pool or to fix it.

“I need the council to give me some direction on what to do with the swimming pool. Some of the suggestions by the parks advisory board and the citizens who were there were to fill it in and make either a beach volleyball court or the other suggestion was to put in a splash pad,” Angerstein said.

Another suggestion was to turn part of the existing pond into a beach or swimming area.

After approximately 30 minutes of discussion, it was decided to hold off on filling in the swimming pool, get estimates on a new pool and/or repairing the existing pool, along with addressing the pond.

Prior to the charter discussion, Angerstein commented on the preliminary city revenues as the council prepares to begin deliberating the Fiscal Year 2019 budget.

“We received our – they (the appraisal district) call it preliminary ad valorem – property values. They are not certified, so they are subject to change. We are roughly $1.3 million up from last year on property values. We actually gained quite a bit in property values but lost some on mineral (values),” he said.

“Our cable and telephone franchises, however, are down,” Angerstein continued. “I am projecting less (revenue) as more people use smart phones.”

He added sales tax in the city was also down and when factored in to all the other revenue streams, the city of Crockett’s budget would be impacted by over $100,000 in the coming year.

In other matters brought before the council:

  • Crockett Police Lt. Clayton Smith reported the police department received 421 calls for service during the month of May which resulted in 64 arrests. There were 47 traffic citations issued and 131 police reports filed.
  • Crockett Fire Chief Jason Frizzell reported the fire department responded to 43 calls during the month of May. Twenty-eight of the calls were in the city limits while 15 were in the county.
  • The minutes of previous meetings were approved.
  • Approval was given by the council to remove the old wooden playground set and to purchase new playground equipment.
  • The council approved a permit application from Ticolini Big Top Circus for an aerobatic show to be held on June 22 and 23.
  • A contract for the supply of electricity from TXU Energy was approved by the council.

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