Gainesville City Council approved a city budget model for the next five fiscal years during Tuesday’s regular meeting.
City Manager Barry Sullivan explained the approved model has been designed to keep city staff mindful of the impact their immediate spending decisions will have on future budgets through 2016.
Sullivan used retirement program funding as an example. If city officials were to consider changing one of the retirement programs for employees, the model would show how any retirement fund increase would affect other budgets and rates, including property taxes.
“It will help us for our future planning,” Sullivan said Tuesday. “It will give us the answers — and this isn’t expected to be perfect, nor is it a goal to shoot for. When a new idea arises, we can apply it to the model and we can see at a mid-range how it is going to impact our budget.
“This is just one more tool in our quiver to help make us financially sound.”
Mayor Jim Goldsworthy added that Sullivan’s new budget model hasn’t been designed to obligate the city to pay for any specific project beyond annual fiscal periods.
“We approve our budgets every year,” Goldsworthy said. “We’re not doing any long-range commitments.”
• During Tuesday’s meeting, Laura and Barry Otts received individual “Star of North Texas” certificates of recognition. Goldsworthy cited their volunteer efforts in civic events during 2011, such as Summer Sounds, Depot Day, Art Walk, the Leonard Park playground expansion, Disco Bike Rally, holiday parades and others.
• Gainesville Police Department Investigations Sgt. Daniel Orr received a “City Employee of the Month” certificate for his service to law enforcement following his promotion to the investigations department. As part of the award, Orr also received an extra day of paid vacation.
• During the meeting’s citizen comments segment, Judy London of Gainesville lodged a complaint with officials. She said her residence on Hillside Drive in Gainesville is in a single-family zone that includes a multifamily rental property occupied by at least six people, most of whom park along the curbs. London said the overcrowding of those cars, plus the excess speeds some of them show while driven in the zone, brings hazard and devalues the area. She reminded officials that renters comprise 40 percent of city residences, and urged them to enforce a system that keeps multifamily renters accountable when they operate in single-family areas. Goldsworthy told London he wasn’t permitted to comment on her complaint, but said he and Sullivan would evaluate it.
Finances and property
• The council approved the sale of Series 2012 contract revenue bonds by the Greater Texoma Utility Authority (GTUA). The GTUA will sell bonds valued at $1,135,000 on behalf of the City of Gainesville, and the funds will aid the expansion of the Moss Lake Treatment Plant and the Northwest Water Distribution System. The meeting minutes explained that GTUA will sell the bonds by way of the Texas Water Development Board’s Water Infrastructure Fund (WIF) at an average interest rate of 1.28 percent. The minutes also explained the bonds are being issued to secure the necessary remaining funds related to the city’s total approved WIF Program funding for the plant project, which is $7,235,000. The city will repay GTUA for the bonds.
• The council denied an ordinance that would have amended an existing ordinance, and would have prompted the city to rezone a 10-acre property at 3074 Harris St. from the status of “single family-two” to “agriculture.” Goldsworthy said the proposed rezoning ordinance had received opposition from neighbors, and this led to a rejection of any changes.
• Following advice from legal counsel, council approved the resolution of a three-month suspension of the effective date for a proposed, system-wide rate increase that was required by Atmos Energy Corp. The resolution nullifies the effective rate increase date of March 6. The resolution allows city officials time to review the Atmos rate-filing package and determine the most reasonable rates. This process will include coordination with other participating cities in the Atmos City Steering Committee.
• The council authorized a lease agreement with Cooke County for the rental of voting machines, which is required for the city’s participation in 2012 elections. No rental fee was required.
• The council authorized the resale of property at 315 Gorham St. in Gainesville, which had been held in trust through a Cooke County Sheriff’s Department deed. Minutes from Tuesday’s meeting explained the property was up for sale as of January 2006, but received no sufficient bids. The Gorham property can now be reoffered for sale during the next sheriff’s department sale. No minimum bid will be required.
• The council authorized the Gainesville Police Department to transfer a unit of surplus vehicle equipment to the Muenster Police Department. The unit is a protective partition shield that separates the front and backseat areas of law enforcement vehicles. The City of Muenster’s current police vehicle is a Ford Crown Victoria that has no partition shield, and needs it, while the increased use of Chevrolet Tahoes among Gainesville officers has made that specific shield unnecessary for them.