By RUSSELL HUFFMAN
STEPHENVILLE (February 3, 2015) — In a unanimous vote, the Stephenville City Council adopted an ordinance ordering a special election to be held Saturday, May 19, 2015, to adopt the type B economic development sales and use tax.
The vote is not to approve any new taxes, but rather how to route funds already in place.
The ordinance reads, “Ordering a special election to be held on Saturday, May 9, 2015, to submit a joint ballot proposition to the eligible voters of the city of Stephenville, Texas, on the reduction of the additional sales tax for property tax relief by the rate of 1/8th of 1% to adopt the type B economic development sales and use tax at the rate of 1/8th of one percent; designating an election day polling place within said city; designating the early voting period and polling locations; establishing other procedures for the conduct of the election; providing for the posting and publication of notice; providing a severability clause; and providing for the effective date?”
The council has spent months going over data collected by Councilman Boyd Waggoner, who introduced council members and the city to attorney Jeff Moore, a well-versed advisor in the field of economic development. During a town hall meeting held January 22, Moore recommended the city take the Type B sales tax route.
Mayor pro-tem Russ McDanel, prior to voting for the measure, said he had four points he was considering before he would give his approval. McDanel emphasized no increase in property taxes, that the project is completely city controlled, that those partnering in the project would have seats on the board and that everything would be transparent to the voters, saying, “no smoke and mirrors.”
The council heard several reports throughout the evening, including a presentation by Chamber of Commerce Executive Director July Danley, who gave a breakdown of some of the major events sponsored by the chamber and the positive aspects of those efforts.
The chamber’s efforts have led to increases in such events as the 40+ team roping championship finals and the Cowboy Capital mounted shooting, which are leading to increases in hotel bookings and more money being spent in town.
Lewis Crain with Rutledge Crain and Company PC presented a comprehensive annual financial report to the city and reported Stephenville had a good year. At the same time, Crain told the council they needed to look at unfunded debt such as pension plans in the future. Currently, Stephenville has a little over $21 million in debt obligation, $5.4 million of which is unfunded liability.
Stephenville’s debt current status could still allow for another $24 million in bond debt.
Bond debt is not something the community services committee wishes to put upon the city, however serious discussion has emerged recently after meetings of representatives of Leadership Stephenville class. Gary Sult and Brent Graves spoke to the council concerning developing a strategic and financial plan for a multipurpose facility in Stephenville.
While the idea is still in its infancy, such a facility might be used to house a large meeting hall, library, senior citizens center and more. The idea also doesn’t call for bond debt but seeking out other sources to fund such a project.
The Council also got a breakdown on the Stephenville Police Department’s racial profiling report from acting police chief Jason King (permanent chief following executive session). During the last calendar year the Stephenville Police Department did not receive any complaints related to the Texas Racial Profiling Law.
There were 2,178 motor-vehicle related contacts made by the Stephenville Police Department in 2014. Of those contacts 77 percent were Caucasian, 19 percent Hispanic, three percent African American and those of Asian, Native American and middle eastern heritage made up 0.30 percent.
Patrick Schmidt, a student at Tarleton State University, gave the Council a presentation for the 17th annual Tarleton Roundup which is being held March 21, 2015. Last year, 752 people attended the event with 101 job sites completed out of 112 applications.
Volunteers and student organizations completed three highway cleanups, worked on sites ranging from residential homes to include city code enforcement jobs, highway cleanups, locally owned businesses and the Bosque River and Bosque River Trail.
People interested in taking part in the 2015 Tarleton Round-up may do so by sponsorship, volunteering and/or suggesting job sites. More information can be obtained by calling the office of student engagement at Tarleton at 254–968–9256.
In planning and zoning business, the council approved several items, including properties at 580 South Lillian Street, 790 Bluebonnet St., the 200 block of Clifton Street, and 1186 West Washington Street. The council took no action concerning property in the area of the 1300 block of Pecan Hill Drive after the planning and zoning commission did not recommend approval.