City Council proposes tax rate, sets public hearings

Editor: Shannon Cottongame

August 25, 2021

The Whitney City Council met in a regular session Monday evening, August 16, and proposed the city tax rate as the council prepares to finalize a budget for the coming fiscal year.

The council proposed the tax rate at $0.6384 per $100 valuation, which is the same as the current year’s rate but above the no-new-revenue rate ($0.6175 per $100), which would have raised the same amount of revenue based on the same properties taxed in both years.

A public hearing on the proposed tax rate was set for Monday, September 13, at 6 p.m. It will be held in the council’s meeting room of the city annex located at 106 North Colorado Street.

The council approved a zoning request for almost 47 acres of property located off HCR 1248 in the city from agricultural use to single-family residential.

City Administrator/Police Chief Chris Bentley reported that the buyer of the property plans to create a subdivision in two sections, with 32 homes being built in the first phase.

The preliminary plat will be before the council for consideration at a future meeting, but rezoning the area was the first step in the process.

Bentley presented the city’s 2019-20 audit, which showed no material weaknesses. The auditor made a few recommendations for policy changes that are being implemented, and the council approved the audit as presented.

Discussions about the closure of portions of Jackson Avenue, San Jacinto Avenue and Harrison Avenue for the benefit of a property owner planning to build storage buildings in the area continued. The matter had previously been tabled to allow the city time to research any water or sewer lines that might in the area.

Public Works Director Billy Pribble reported that his crews had found an active water line in the area of Harrison Avenue, and the city would need to retain access to that area. The council discussed options, including closing the area while retaining access to the lines or giving the property owner the option of relocating them at his expense.

The council decided that it would be best to hear from the property owner or a representative at a future meeting to determine how to proceed. No action was taken.

The council also approved a proclamation of appreciation to Representative Roger Williams for his support of law enforcement in the city.

Bentley said that if Williams’ schedule allows, he will be in town to receive the proclamation in person Wednesday, September 8.

During the public forum, citizens addressed the council about a dilapidated structure in the 300 block of North San Jacinto Street, issues with brush pickup in the city, drainage issues in the 700 block of Railroad Avenue and ensuring hydrants are working adequately in the 200 block of South Bosque Street.

In departmental reports, Pribble said that his crews had been picking up brush for the past three Saturdays to try and get ahead of the issue. The importance of educating the community about brush pickup rules was also discussed.

All brush put out for pick up must meet the following criteria: 1. The brush may consist only of tree and brush limbs and twigs.; 2. All brush must be bundled.; 3. The bundles must be no longer than 48 inches in length or more than 40 pounds in weight.; 4. The bundles must be tied with string, twine or rope only. Chain and wire are prohibited.

While the schedule is generally that brush is picked up in different areas of the city each Wednesday, the work has been done on Saturdays lately and city staff reported that it is unknown how long that schedule will continue.

The council convened in executive session to discuss possible disciplinary action against a city police officer, but no action was taken when open session was resumed.

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