BY RUSSELL HUFFMAN
The Stephenville City Council approved a new tax rate of 47.5 cents per hundred dollars evaluation, but the rate did not come without a little controversy after one council member said he believed a one-cent reduction proposed by another was for “political gain.”
Councilman Brandon Huckabee pointed out that a proposal set before the council by fellow member Rhett Harrison was only going to save the average household “about $1.25 per month”.
Harrison took exception to Huckabee’s perception of the proposal and pointed out he had run on a platform of “cutting taxes,” and it was a matter of cumulative savings with “a cent there, two cents here, a half cents there and it eventually starts to add up.”
As the council had just approved its upcoming budget a significant change to the tax rate might have derailed months of preparation work. After a discussion that included the rate was going up due to high appraisals of property values, the proposal was made to set the rate at 47.5 rather than 48 cents which were approved by a 4-2 vote with Huckabee and Councilman Alan Nix voting against it.
Councilwoman Carla Trussell presented requests for hotel occupancy tax funds (HOT), and none presented more interest than “Moolah Fest” which is a plan to bring 20 hot air balloons to Stephenville for a three-day festival the weekend of May 31 next year.
The balloons are available for reservation for the weekend at an estimated cost of $40,000 which will hopefully be paid for through sponsorships and advertising. Trussell brought the recommendation the council approve a $1,000 down payment to reserve the balloons.
According to Trussell, similar festivals had drawn as many as 10,000 people. The festival would include nighttime “glow flights” and tethered flights for those who want to take a trip up and see the sights above Stephenville and the surrounding area. The event would also feature dairy-related items like cheese and be a bit of revival of the past “DairyFest” rolled into the MooLah Festival.
Fees, fees, fees
The council approved a new set of rates for fees charged by the city for various services and activities to include a .50 cent increase in the cost of entering Splashville. Here is a complete list of the new fees. https://stephenville.civicweb.net/document/11168/Fee%20Schedule%20Ord%20FY%202018-2019.pdf?handle=16849F80D91141C4B968CFFEFF7E7694