City of Dayton approves $19.8 million budget, new tax rate

Dayton Police Capt. John Coleman introduces the department's newest dispatcher, Harley Bush, to city council on Sept. 17.

Dayton City Council at a meeting Monday, Sept. 17, unanimously approved the city’s $19.8 million budget and adopted a tax rate of $0.6821 per $100 property valuation for the upcoming fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1, 2018, and ends Sept. 30, 2019.

Rudy Zepeda, assistant city manager and head of the city’s finance department, presented the final budget, first explaining the need to amend the budget by $10,000 to include funding for Dayton Enhancement Committee. Council approved the amendment and then moved on to quickly approve the tax rate, which supports the balanced budget.

With no one signed up to make public comments about the budget or tax rate, Mayor Jeff Lambright thanked Zepeda for producing a budget that was “easier and cleaner to understand” than in years past, and moved on to other business.

City Manager Theo Melancon shared exciting information regarding the fire department’s new ISO rating, which has dropped from the current rate of six to three. The lower the score, the more savings that are passed on to property owners in decreased insurance rates, he said.

“We came close to getting a 2,” Melancon said. “Three is really good and six is about average.”

Melancon said that the lower rate was a combination of a new fire truck for the department and quicker call response times, but much of it was attributed to better reporting.

“There were some ways to tweak the reporting that allowed the department to get more points,” he said.

Four of the city’s Public Works department employees – Adrian Ellis, Alex Jones, Charles Haley Jr. and Devin Sadler – were recognized during the council meeting for keeping up with work orders despite being shorthanded.

News of the police department’s plans to be an agency recognized by the Texas Police Chiefs Association, were shared with council by Capt. John Coleman. The recognition is the gold standard for Texas law enforcement agencies.

“About six months ago, Theo asked us to start looking into the best practices to be a recognized agency. Basically what the Texas Police Chiefs Association expects is for agencies to be in compliance with 166 of the Texas law enforcement best practices,” Coleman said. “There are 12 things that can get law enforcement into trouble the most, such as how we deal with the mentally ill … and the selection and hiring of new officers.”

Coleman said the police department’s policies and procedures are in need of major updating as they are not current. He pointed out that sexual and gender orientation are not part of the department’s current policies and procedures.

“We’ve never had a sally port before now, so we didn’t have a policy about how it should be handled in our policies and procedures,” the captain said.

To qualify as a recognized police agency, the city must first fill out an application, sign a contract and then work to meet all of the 166 best practices over the next two years. After the two-year period, the police department will undergo a two-day inspection. If they pass inspection, they will be added to a small list of 100 Texas law enforcement agencies that have been recognized since the program’s inception in 2006.

Coleman concluded by introducing Harley Bush, a new dispatcher for Dayton Police Department.

In other business, the city heard a report on its web and social media program. The city now has roughly 2,100 Facebook followers and the city’s website,, is projected to have 67,000 page views this year.

Council also heard, but took no action on, a presentation from Richard Weathersby of Freese and Nichols, the city’s rate-planning consulting firm. Weathersby suggested that the city will need to look into raising water and sewer rates for high-volume customers in order to offset its expenses.

Weathersby said projected growth in Dayton will require the city to build a new groundwater well and elevated storage tank.

Council briefly met in executive session to discuss applicants for the newly-created board of directors for city’s tax increment reinvestment zone (TIRZ). They emerged to vote eight people to the board. The board members are Lester Ray Wisegerber, Bob Edwards, Arlene Langham, Terry Boyett, Wesley Pratka, Wes Hinch, Neal Lux and Felix Skarpa. The TIRZ board will select a chair.

The TIRZ board will have the authority to reject a TIRZ project or give the go-ahead to council to authorize the reimbursement.

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Before creating Bluebonnet News in 2018, Vanesa Brashier was a community editor for the Houston Chronicle/Houston Community Newspapers. During part of her 12 years at the newspapers, she was assigned as the digital editor and managing editor for the Humble Observer, Kingwood Observer, East Montgomery County Observer and the Lake Houston Observer, and the editor of the Dayton News, Cleveland Advocate and Eastex Advocate. Over the years, she has earned more than two dozen writing awards, including Journalist of the Year.

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