By BRAD KEITH
STEPHENVILLE (Sept. 8, 2015) — Stephenville resident Justin Allison was the only individual to speak during the second and final public hearing regarding the proposed 2015 tax rate for the City of Stephenville Tuesday evening at City Hall.
The proposed tax rate is $0.49 per $100 in taxable value, the same as the current rate. Even excluding new properties added to the tax role in the last ear, the proposed rate is expected to bring in more than $5.1 million, a $200,000 increase over the last fiscal year.
“I’m in favor of cutting the property tax rate. I, as a proud conservative, am in favor of cutting taxes whenever feasible.”
Allison, who ran for City Council but was defeated in the May election, pointed out that due to an uptick in property valuations, the 2015 budget would still be balanced if the property tax rate was lowered.
Regarding concerns the increased revenue is needed for economic development and growth, Allison said, “We cannot tax our way out of this problem, we must grow our way out of this problem,” and went on to suggest the move for positive publicity, saying, “The city council has had a difficult couple of months with a plethora of negative publicity and this is something that would be received as a positive.”
Mayor Kenny Weldon put enough stock in the words of Allison to ask the public finance committee to hold one final hearing and consider his suggestions before the tax rate is voted on at 5:30 p.m. next Tuesday, also at City Hall.
Councilmen also had final questions answered by Mike Doughty, a representative of Countywide Inspection Services, before Weldon signed a $120,000 contract – $10,000 per month for a year – to have that company provide code consulting, plan review and building inspections services for the city.
Doughty told the council Countywide Inspection Services currently has on its client roll approximately 30 cities ranging in size from small towns to the City of Keller, a growing suburb of north Fort Worth. In response to the questioning of Mayor Pro-Tem Russ McDanel, Doughty said Countywide indeed does not do fire inspections or storm water drainage inspections, but that they work closely with those that do. He also said, “We never roll (delay) inspections,” and that same day service will be provided when necessary.
Mayor Weldon praised Countywide Inspection Services.
“What I have heard loud and clear out of this is a common sense approach to building code enforcement, which is paramount in today’s environment, because as we know, we live in a over-regulated world where urban restrictions many times don’t have the same connotations in a small community. We find out selves held hostage to what is many times a big city interpretation of a rule, and that’s where common sense comes in to not circumvent a rule but to comply with the rule in a common sense manner,” Weldon said. “That’s what I’ve heard from y’all loud and clear, and why I think you have received such good references coming to us. You’ve found a niche that is sorely needed in small communities.”
The contract with Countywide Inspection Services was approved at the last council meeting and was finalized with the mayor’s signature Tuesday evening.