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Council talks baseball, pay increases

Council talks baseball, pay increases
NANNETTE KILBEY-SMITH La Vernia City Municipal Development District Executive Director Jennifer Kolbe and Planning and Zoning commission member Gordon Bake observe council discussion Sept. 11.

Meeting the needs for a growing area population continues to challenge the La Vernia City Council.

During its Sept. 11 regular meeting, lengthy council discussions included parks and recreation and budgetary items related to business growth. Also on the agenda were public hearings related to the city’s budget and tax rate, along with streets maintenance and municipal water supply.

The council and others gathered for the meeting observed a moment of silence, in honor of the lives lost in the terrorist attacks Sept. 11, 2001.

Money matters consumed most of the evening. No members of the public addressed the council during the hearings on the proposed city budget.

The city’s tax rate and budget didn’t generate much discussion; however, the proposed budget for the La Vernia Municipal Development District (MDD), funded by a half-cent sales tax, elicited detailed discussion among Mayor Robert Gregory and council members Marie Gerlich, Randy Leonard, Harold Schott, Eloi Cormier, and Jennifer Moczygemba.

Briefly, the council discussed a proposed director of services for the development district, and the administrative staff position, which will change from part-time to full-time.

However, comments focused on a proposed 10-percent raise for MDD Executive Director Jennifer Kolbe. The council is recommending only a 3-percent increase for city employees, by comparison.

“A 10-percent increase when other employees are only getting 3 percent; that’s really hard to explain on the street,” Moczygemba said.

The mayor, who sat in on the MDD board meeting earlier that day, said he was “somewhat bemused” that the board approved the raise, without a mechanism for why the position merited a raise.

“é we need to keep in mind her responsibilities, and what she does,” Gerlich said.

Leonard said the budget, approved by the MDD board, reflects a 42-percent wage-to-income ratio, with projected income of $250,000. He cited an interlocal agreement between the city and the MDD which states the executive director’s salary is determined by the district’s board, not the city, though the position receives benefits as a city employee.

A vote to approve the budget failed 3-2, with Gerlich and Leonard voting in favor and Cormier, Moczygemba, and Schott in opposition. The MDD set a meeting for Sept. 15 to revisit the budget for presenting again Sept. 18 for council consideration.

Also generating much discussion was a presentation by Martin Poore of the La Vernia Little League, regarding the potential for hosting tournaments for out-of-town teams in the La Vernia City Park. A recent tournament generated excitement, revenue for city businesses, and some challenges, including increased traffic and trash. Also raised was the lack of lodging in the La Vernia area to accommodate the teams and their families.

“We had a couple of thousand people in the park at any given time,” Poore said.

The organization would like to hold one tournament each month, with La Vernia among the cities playing host.

“The city has control over the size of the tournaments,” Poore said. “We can stipulate no more than 20 teams, if we want.”

“The economic impact on the city would be off the charts, if we can control it,” Moczygemba said.

The council approved for the mayor to draft a fee schedule and discuss the matter more at a later date.

Among other items during the meeting, the council:

¢Approved a taser policy for the La Vernia Police Department. “It’s straight from TML (Texas Municipal League),” said police Chief Bruce Ritchey. “It’s golden good as it gets.”

¢Set a fall cleanup for Oct. 16-19 with the city’s solid-waste provider.

¢Adopted the 2012 International Building Code

¢Adopted fees for services from Bureau Veritas related to building codes and inspections

¢Discussed potential road-maintenance projects

¢Approved including funds in the budget for a part-time code enforcement officer.

City budget

¢Projected general fund expenses: $1,221,413.47 general administrative, police department, and court

¢Anticipated revenue: $1,201,526.60

¢Projected utility (water/sewer) expenses: $856,788.05.

¢Anticipated debt service: $31,082.73, with a fund balance of $12,126.73

Tax rate

A second public hearing on the proposed tax rate is set for Thursday, Sept. 18, at 6:30 p.m. at City Hall.

The proposed rate is 19.99 cents per $100 of assessed value. This comprises 17.92 cents for maintenance and operations, and 2.07 cents for principal and interest on debt.

The current tax rate is 19.92 cents per $100 of valuation. When adopted last year, this was down .16 of a cent from the previous year’s tax rate of 20.08 cents.

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