Heights Council

Harker Heights Police Chief Mike Gentry tells council members about a Texas law that provides grants for the purchase of body armor to protect officers from rifle fire. His comments came during Tuesday’s Harker Heights council workshop.

BOB MASSEY | Herald

The Harker Heights City Council on Tuesday held its second public hearing on the proposed budget and tax rate for the 2017-18 fiscal year.

Finance Director Alberta Barrett said the proposed revenues in the governmental funds portion of the budget for next year totaled $36.16 million that includes the general fund, debt service, fixed assets and capital improvements. Expenses in that same category total $36.7 million.

Barrett said, “These are based on our current tax rate of 67.7 cents per $100 valuation.”

The major item in that category for next year is capital improvements. The biggest difference for next year is the revenue at $2.22 million with expenses at $12.43 million. What we are spending next year is what was borrowed in prior years.” The addition to or use of the capital improvement fund balance will be $10.2 million.

The budget will be adopted on Tuesday.

Two residents spoke during the public hearing part of the meeting.

First was Scott Arey, a local resident and businessman. Arey said, “I’m frustrated because every taxing entity that sends me a statement has increased their taxes this year. I expect there are a lot of reasons behind it but I’m curious why money is not coming back to the citizens where it belongs. I just hope that whenever the opportunity presents itself that lowering taxes will be your course of action.”

Paula Lohse, a member of the Texas A&M-Central Texas University Foundation Board, implored the council to reconsider their contribution to the university from $25,000 to the original requested amount of $50,000.

Lohse said, “We appreciate your support in the past but the additional funds are critical to providing scholarships for students.”

There were no comments during the second public hearing concerning the proposed tax rate. Barrett said, “The rate does provide an increase in our general and debt service funds.”

This rate exceeds the effective rate of $ 64.16 cents and is lower than the rollback rate of 71.75 cents.

The tax rate also will be adopted at Tuesday’s meeting.

In other action, the council heard from Police Chief Mike Gentry on the purchase of body armor fo rthe department.

Gentry told council members, “The grant we’ve put together is for $31,130 and if you approve it, every officer in the department will be outfitted with this armor.”

In light of recent attacks on law enforcement officers around the U.S. and Texas, the 85th Legislature passed Senate Bill 12 and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.

This legislation authorized funding in the amount of $25 million in grants for Texas law enforcement agencies to outfit officers with body armor that meets the National Institute of Justice standard for rifle protection.

The two city marshals and two tactical medics will also be equipped.

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