Cove council

Councilman Marc Payne greets attendees Tuesday, Sept. 4, 2018, at the City Council meeting. Payne was the lone councilman who tried to lower the city’s property tax rate for fiscal year 2019.

Only one councilman Tuesday pushed to lower the property tax rate in the city.

The City Council has adopted its budget and tax rate for fiscal year 2019.

The total operating budget is $37,033,386, and the tax rate of 79.7908 cents per $100 property valuation. The tax rate is the same as the current rate.

The gap will be filled by drawing money from the operating fund reserve account. The budget is considered balanced because the city is over the ideal fund balance by $902,462.

The ideal fund balance is three months of operating expenses, or about $9 million.

Councilman Marc Payne was the lone councilman to vote against adopting the tax rate.

As councilmen prepared to adopt the proposed tax rate, Payne lobbied to lower the rate to 79.25 cents.

“We need to show citizens we’re heading in a right direction,” he said, referring to the past 10 years as “tight” for some frugal-minded families in the city.

During the July 28 council meeting, Payne originally proposed a tax rate of 78 cents, which was quickly voted down by his fellow six councilmen. At Tuesday’s meeting, his fellow six councilmen also voted down Payne’s motion.

Councilmen Kirby Lack and James Pierce Jr. quickly rebuked Payne’s pitch. Lowering the tax rate already proposed to remain the same wouldn’t be worth cutting the budget.

Were the council to adopt Payne’s proposed lower tax rate, revenue would be reduced by roughly $16,000, according to city officials, and the adoption of the fiscal year 2019 budget would have been delayed.

“That’s $16,000. What do you want to cut?” Pierce asked Payne, who then said it was important to encourage businesses and residents by lowering the tax rate at least by a bit.

In other business, an agreement with the Copperas Cove Fire Department and Coryell Memorial Hospital’s emergency medical services division was approved.

The agreement will allow their EMS students to perform ride-outs in a student capacity with the fire department’s ambulance service.

Payne requested an item for a future agenda revolving around FATHOM, the city’s third-party water supplier, following several claims of false billing made by residents, among other complaints.

Payne also requested a future item to discuss the upkeep of the city’s cemetery after residents complained about unkempt conditions. | 254-501-7553

Herald staff writer

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