Crockett City Council Begins Working on Budget

By Greg Ritchie

Messenger Reporter

CROCKETT – Crockett City Council met Monday morning, July 1, to begin the process of setting budget priorities for the city’s next fiscal year, which begins October 1. The meeting lasted four hours, as there were many questions and issues to be explained to the two new council members, Elbert Johnson and NaTrenia Hicks. 

One important issue was that of compensation and insurance for city employees, with Crockett City Administrator John Angerstein asking the council to consider broad numbers for later detailed discussion, telling council members the city must keep a close eye on the budget, while making sure employees can be recruited and retained and their compensation can keep up with inflation. 

Angerstein requested the council not make any increase on a global percentage basis, saying someone making more will benefit more. He asked to consider a percentage of increase, which would then be equally distributed among city employees. 

“That way, everyone moves up a little,” Angerstein said. “Groceries cost the same for everybody.”

The basics of the city budget were presented, including the fact that no matter what the appraisal district might do, the city’s increase year-over-year is capped at 3.5% The city budget for the next fiscal year will be $10,615,404, with only about $6 million controlled by the council for general expenses, while $4 million go to utilities and other costs. 

The various departments came forward with their requests for new capital expenditures, putting forward their case to acquire new equipment or renovate city property. 

Gerald Coulter from Crockett Public Works department explains some of the equipment his department is requesting in the new city budget.

The Public Works Department was represented by Gerald Coulter who had several requests for equipment to work on the city’s streets, arguing the city currently has to borrow equipment from other entities in some cases. Angerstein explained the work to repair a city street begins sometimes as much as a year before the street work, including working on water lines, as well as replacing gutters and curbs. 

  1. Padfoot roller for building and stabilizing roads, $70,000
  2. Oil distribution tank and mechanical tools, $100-120,000
  3. Chip spreader to replace current model from 1979 – $80,000

Judy Scott from Crockett Library presented several needs for the council to consider.

  1. Maintenance costs for the library’s BookMobile unit, $1,500 per year
  2. Interior renovations, $270,000, with $100,000 coming from an approved grant and another $100,000 likely to come from donors
  3. Expansion of sidewalk access and additional parking, $22,000
Crockett Library Director Judy Scott tells Crockett city council about the projects going on and some of the funding needed to keep them going at a budget workshop Monday, July 1.

The city’s new animal shelter should soon begin limited operations, as reported recently in The Messenger. Angerstein said there were still some things not budgeted for, such as painting, installation of a fence and security cameras. $30,000 was requested. 

The flat roof design of the Crockett Civic Center continues to give the city headaches, leading to a “swimming pool” forming after large storms. Even after recent renovations, it was reported the roof is still leaking, which will eventually lead to interior issues. A raised design to go over that roof and divert run water was requested, at a cost of $24,000. 

A further $32,000 was requested to paint much of the interior of the civic center, as the facility has not been painted in 40 years, and a further $32,000 to install security cameras at the facility. 

Angerstein asked the council to consider the proposal to install “Welcome to Crockett” signs at the main entrances to the city, or asked to be allowed to remove the current ones, which he said look worse that no signs at all. The signs, if approved, would be of local design and construction, possibly of stone and metal, with LED lights. The total cost for the signs would be $125,000, with Crockett Construction committing to pay for one of the signs themselves. 

Crockett Police Department (CPD) Chief Clayton Smith had several requests for his force to better equipment over the next several years. 

  1. Budget increase for body worn cameras, $65,000 over five years. The program would include 16 body cameras for officers and command staff, along with camera replacement after two-and-a-half years and a cloud system to store the footage which CPD would be able to share with other law enforcement agencies or legal departments. 
  2. Incentives for officers, $35,400. Smith presented information that CPD officers had given up incentive pay for training and certificates, in order to make room in the budget for a department-wide pay increase. The understanding was that these funds would be returned to CPD at some point. The pay incentives help keep good officer and serve to incentivize them to expand their training and knowledge in useful skills such as bilingual officers, completing college degrees, field training and other areas. 
  3. Four news police vehilces, $62-65,000 each. Smith noted several of the current units have more than 100,000 miles and Angerstein has consistently made the case the city should work to replace these units over time, so the city is not presented with a crisis where it must go and spend money on a police force with no working vehicles. Smith said the new units will provide better public and officer safety and reduce maintenance costs in the long term. CPD was able to drastically reduce the cost of each new unit by working with city employees to do much of the fitting out of the units in house. 

Crockett Fire Department (CFD) Chief Jason Frizzell was on hand to make some significant requests for the city’s fire-fighting efforts. 

  1. Class A Pumper vehicle, $873,000. CFD currently operates two units, a newer one paid off this year, and a second one from 1994, which they are requesting to replace. Maintencane and spare parts are becoming harder to find and a new unit would be able to serve the cir for 25 years. 
  2. Refurbishment of CFD ladder truck, $550,000. This unit helped the department receive an ISO rating of 2, which helps local homeowners get a break on their home insurance costs. The current unit is not fit to pass inspection and a refurbishment would allow the truck to serve another 10-15 years. Frizzell noted a new truck costs around $1.3 million dollars. 
  3. Hire five additional firefighters and related gear, $328,825. Frizzell said the proposal would allow him to have at least three staff on hand, 24 hours a day. While Frizzell noted this is still not ideal, he said it would be a big step in the right direction, noting although volunteerism is decreasing, the need to respond to fires is not. “CFD is known for showing up and taking care of the citizens,” Frizzell said. “We take great pride in that and want to continue meeting that expectation.”

Greg Ritchie can be reached at [email protected]

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