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VA City Council Finally Approves Budget

After weeks of discussions, special called meetings and workshop sessions, the Van Alstyne City Council approved the 2013-14 fiscal year budget, though not unanimously and not in its normal environment.

Seated at folding tables and chairs inside the open bays of the fire department due to the library’s book sale in the community center, Council adopted the budget on Sept. 27, in a 3-1 vote with council member Kaaren Teuber the lone dissenting voice. In a prepared statement, Teuber stated that, “Bond debt affects every taxpayer in every city. If the Federal debt is a problem, then local debt must be considered a a problem as well. We don’t want to see our children buried in debt so that they will have the burden of paying it off when they grow up.”

Teuber went on to state that she was opposed to the budget because “it is bloated,” and “All this is doing is proposing increased spending that will lead to bankruptcy,” and reiterated her opposition to pay-for-performance salary increases for city employees.

Teuber’s fellow council members were in direct opposition to her position on the budget and process, however. John Jennings stated that “I feel that city administration has done a commendable job of putting together a city budget.” Jennings also talked of the need to address issues and how it needed to begin now. He said it was unfortunate that water rates have to be raised and how the city must offer salary increases to maintain a proficient staff of employees.

Councilman Russell Moore also commended the staff for its work with the budget and spoke of the difficulty the current administration faces in having to fix past mistakes by different administrations.

“I have a lot of faith in our department heads,” said Moore.

Councilman Billy Plake added his praise for the administration’s work but expressed disappointment that he only heard of budget concerns from other council members and not from the public itself.

Councilman Jim Smith was absent from this meeting, though he told the Van Alstyne Leader that he would have voted “No” on the budget which ultimately would not have changed the outcome.

“There is what I consider to be bloated revenue expectations,” said Smith of the budget. “Expenses are excessive; the million dollars for public works is excessive.”

Council also voted unanimously to ratify the property tax increase as reflected in the budget and mandated by state code. The total tax revenue raised last year (at a tax rate of .744082) was $1,098,179.73. The adopted tax rate for this year has been set at .594869 and will raise $1,149,189.64. That is a 6.57 percent increase in tax revenues collected and accounts for that property which is already on the tax rolls. As an extension of that property tax vote, Council voted 4-0 to adopt an ordinance levying taxes for the 2013 tax year.

2013-14 Budget Numbers to Remember:

Revenue - $6,011,142.78

Expenses - $5,873,135.14

Revenue after Expenses - $138,007.64

Council Notes: Council voted unanimously to allow Mayor Teddie Ann Salmon to sign agreements with Grayson County to provide fire service and ambulance services…Salmon presented a proclamation for Freedom from Workplace Bullies Week which is enacted the third week of October.