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By Elizabeth Tanner
An effective property tax rate of $0.584037, a 1.8-percent increase from the previous year, was approved at the Sept. 8 Post City Council meeting.
“We need this effective tax rate to get the levy we need to keep the city functioning,” City Manager and City of Post Tax Assessor-Collector Deana Smith said.
Ward 3 Councilman Jeff Hood argued that the city cannot continue to actively raise the tax rate, suggesting that they keep the 2019-20 rate of $0.573456.
“We can’t keep raising the tax rate every year,” Hood said. “We took a 10-percent increase last year; we should be able to stay the same.”
However, Smith rebutted saying that if the city was to keep the 2019-20 rate, they would be forced to take a larger increase at another time.
Additionally, Ward 1 Councilwoman and Mayor Pro Team Melba Cimental argued that if the rate was to remain the same, a certain department in the budget would in turn suffer a detrimental cut.
“We will have to adjust our budget if we take a decrease,” Cimental said. “Who will we cut – the sheriff’s office, the fire department? We can’t do that.”
Ward 5 Councilman Jimmy Valdez, who also serves as Fire Chief, echoed Cimental’s comments, saying that he couldn’t put a price on the life of one of his firefighters.
“We need certain equipment which costs money,” Valdez said. “I can’t send a man into a burning house with a faulty air pack.”
Mayor Marvin Self told the council that additionally some budget funds provide cushion for unforeseen circumstances such as the coronavirus pandemic.
“Just because it’s in the budget doesn’t mean we spend it,” Self said. “If we don’t have enough funds, we could be in trouble. We have to continue to spend our money wisely and take care of the people.”
Upon voting, all members of the court agreed to raise the rate to $0.584037, which is the effective rate for the 2020-21 year.
The council also approved a water rate increase from $32.45 to $32.50 for the minimum of up to 3,000 gallons per month.
The increase, which is the first the city has approved in eight years, will amount in annual revenue of $895.80, which will be used as matching funds for a grant to replace in-town water lines that have recently been breaking due to age.
“We need to show that we are making efforts toward the grant,” Smith said.
In other city news, the council approved adopting an updated building code. The new building code applies to all commercial buildings constructed after Jan. 1, 2006. The updated code has fewer restrictions than the previous and will allow for more flexibility, Self said.
The council also proclaimed Sept. 25 as Disabled American Veterans Day in the City of Post.
Disabled American Veterans (DAV) is a nonprofit veterans service organization composed of more than 1 million wartime service-disabled veterans and will be celebrating 100 years of service on Sept. 25. Locally, J.W. Jolly, III serves as commander of the R.L. Ferguson Chapter 44 Disabled American Veterans.
“On behalf of DAV members and DAV Auxiliary members throughout the state, we appreciate your assistance in giving this important milestone in our history the recognition it deserves,” Jolly said.
Sheriff Terry Morgan updated the council on the 115 pounds of marijuana Garza County Deputy Travis Johnson seized during a traffic stop Aug. 21. The two men, who were arrested on charges of possession of marijuana, greater than 50 pounds and less than 2,000 pounds, also had $40,000 in cash which the Garza County Sheriff’s Office seized. The men had a federal history of drug trafficking, said Morgan.
In another, unrelated drug bust, deputies seized $4,500 in cash and a significant amount of marijuana from a man travelling from Colorado to Austin, Texas, said Morgan.
Morgan also announced this will be the eighth consecutive year that taxpayers’ money will not be used to pay for Garza County jail expenses as the jail houses almost 40 out-of-county inmates.
Additionally, Morgan revealed that a record-breaking 4,428 service calls have been placed in the last eight months.
“This has not only been a load on us but also on the EMS and fire department,” Morgan said.
The council also announced there have been no additional changes in the fiscal year 2020-21 budget. The general fund is currently set at $3,169,801 and the water and sewer fund is $2,577,970 for a combined operating budget of $5,747,771.
The next regular meeting is scheduled for 5:30 p.m., Oct. 13.