By Vanesa Brashier, firstname.lastname@example.org
Liberty City Council unanimously approved a $35.9 million budget for the 2019-2020 fiscal year at the Sept. 10 meeting. Rising property values, correlating to an increase in property tax collections, allow the City to maintain the property tax rate of $0.5851 per $100 in assessed property values while also making some improvements. City Manager Tom Warner said the City has also seen a small increase in sales tax collected.
“Our Emergency Medical Services revenues are also up, which is a good news-bad news thing. The number of service calls have increase. So far this month, we’ve had 120 calls for service. We typically run 280-300 per month. That puts us on track for 360 calls this month,” Warner said.
Not all of the calls are emergencies. The City ambulance service is routinely called to transport people to and from the hospital, nursing homes and assisted living centers, he added.
The new budget funds three paramedic positions within the fire department with an additional paramedic per shift and a street repair program that will begin next year.
“The street program is something we hope to continue for years. Infrastructure is something we are looking at in all aspects of the budget,” Warner said. “We have some sanitary sewer projects that are finishing up. Then we are doing a round of water projects, then a round of sanitary sewer projects, alternating back and forth.”
Three new members were appointed by Council to the Liberty Municipal Library Board. They are Tinya Griffin, Christina Varela and Brenda Pratt. Paul Schmidt was appointed to fill an unexpired term on the board.
Nominations for the Liberty County Central Appraisal District were also made during the meeting. Neil Stoesser was nominated to serve on the LCCAD Ag Advisory Board and John Hebert Jr. was nominated for a reappointment to the CAD Board of Directors.
Warner was appointed to the Sam Rayburn Municipal Power Authority’s Board of Directors. Warner just completed the unexpired term of former city manager Gary Broz.
Council awarded a bid for $90,489 to WPI to replace a 2006 generator at City Hall. Warner said the age of the existing generator is making it difficult to maintenance and repair. Originally, the City had obligated $75,000 for a new generator, but at the Sept. 10 meeting they authorized funds of an additional $15,000 to cover the purchase.
Following an executive session, Council approved an offer to buy a tax sale property in the Oak Place Subdivision, which is located in the southeastern part of Liberty. The bid was for 13 lots at $3,000 each for a total of $39,000.
In his City Manager report, Warner provided an update on a lease agreement that was executed Sept. 5 with Distinct Cantinas, Inc. to operate the municipal golf course restaurant. The lessee, Roland Lorenzo, who also owns El Tiempo Restaurants in Houston, will pay the City $250 per month for the first year of operation. The lease payment will go up incrementally each year. The second year will be $500 per month, the third year – $750 per month, and the fourth year, if both parties enter a renewal agreement, will be $1,000 or 5 percent of all net sales generated above $1 million.
The next Liberty City Council meeting will be held at 6 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 8, at Liberty City Hall, 1829 Sam Houston Ave., Liberty. Agendas and dates for city meetings can be found at https://www.cityofliberty.org.