Budget approved by Texarkana Council, $20 million bond issue

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TEXARKANA, Texas — In a meeting Monday, the city council approved a new annual budget and the issuance of more than $20 million in bonds.

Both measures passed unanimously, the latest step in a months-long process involving a Council-appointed Citizens’ Budget Advisory Committee.

In the next fiscal year, general fund revenue is estimated at approximately $40,347,000 and normal operating expenses at approximately $40,336,000, with an additional one-time use of the fund balance of approximately $11,240,000 in relief. federal coronavirus and American Rescue Act funds.

Highlights of the budget include a 3% wage increase for all non-civilian municipal employees and an increase in pay for police recruits from $45,000 to $48,000 per year. Firefighters will also get pay rises under a collective agreement finalized in 2020.

City revenue is expected to increase in the coming year, in part due to increased property tax assessments which will yield approximately $1.8 million more despite the remaining property tax rate at 65 cents per $100 of assessed value. Sales tax revenue is also expected to increase by 1%, or more than $200,000.

The bond package will be used for “street and bridge improvements, including landscaping, drainage, curbs, gutters, medians, sidewalks, signage, lighting and road signs,” according to a summary published with the meeting’s agenda.

The funds will be available to the city from October 11. The city’s annual debt service payment on the bonds will be $1.5 million in the first year and $1.48 million in each of the following nine years.

Council also heard an initial presentation on a proposed water rate increase based on the city’s first rate study since 2001.

According to the proposal, the average residential bill for someone using 6,000 gallons per month will increase 5% in fiscal year 2023, 11% in fiscal year 2024, and then 4% in fiscal year 2023. fiscal year 25/26 and 3% thereafter, according to a summary. The price must rise to pay for necessary improvements to critical water supply and sewage treatment infrastructure, the town hall said.

The city has over 2.4 million feet of water pipes and over 1.7 million feet of sewer pipes.

“Some of the water lines are over 100 years old with over 200,000 feet of water lines less than 6″. Much of our sewer lines are constructed of clay pipes and need to be replaced” , according to the summary.

Council will hold a public hearing and vote on the measure at its next meeting, scheduled for September 26.

In other business, the Board voted to approve the Texarkana Airport Authority’s donation of a Cold War-era radar dome, or radome, to the National Air Defense Radar Museum in Bellefontaine, Ohio. The Texarkana, Arkansas City Council passed a similar measure last week.

The plan is for the museum to dismantle the radome in Texarkana and ship it to Ohio for reassembly and restoration. From 1955 to 1968, the geodesic dome housed a radar antenna used for U.S. air defense by the Air Force’s 703rd Aircraft Control and Warning Squadron, according to the online encyclopedia Military Wiki.

A measure was also approved to allow food sales at 1502 Summerhill Road; a specific use permit to allow automobile sales at 2719 Summerhill; a specific use permit to authorize a tattoo studio at 3016 Richmond Road; and a rezoning and site plan to allow a drive-thru cafe at 3107 Richmond.

The Council also voted by consent to void this year’s elections for Wards 4 and 6 members, as no one opposed incumbents Christie Page and Jay Davis, respectively. Each will serve another three-year term.

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