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JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER

GRANITE SHOALS — Council members learned about changes in the sales tax law, outlined priorities for the year and continued their conversation about the deer population during a special meeting July 21.

The state sales tax rate is at 6.25 percent, and cities can collect up to 2 percent. But 1 percent must be used for road repair, criminal prevention, property tax relief, economic development and animal control.

A change in the law now allows cities to conduct special elections and have the entire 2 percent go toward general revenue, City Manager Ken Nickel said.

The Granite Shoals sales tax rate is 1.75 percent, which is in addition to the state sales tax.
Nickel said the change in the law allows cities to have more flexibility. Still, the council took no action, he added, stating administrators simply gave a presentation to explain the law changes.

Council members also were asked to review their wish list of priorities for the upcoming year.

Top of the list remains providing a safe community for residents. That means police, fire, EMS, the court system and animal control remain a priority.

Other priorities are
• a safe and efficient water system as well as street maintenance and paving
• increase code compliance by 25 percent
• adopt a water line replacement plan
• continue to improve the city’s financial stability
• customer service and teamwork
• hire and maintain a strong work force
• planning and having a vision for the future such as updating the comprehensive plan
• identifying new grants and execution of the current ones
• improve communications to citizens
• encourage and promote business activities in the city

“These are things you’d like to do,” Nickel said.

The projected cost of updating the comprehensive plan is $70,000. Nickel said he would rather use that money for street repairs.

Another issue that’s come up recently is the city’s deer population.

The city plans to follow the guidelines set by Texas Parks and Wildlife when it comes to deer management. Staff members will conduct town hall meetings with citizens in a few weeks to talk about a plan that makes sense for the animal and taxpayers.

The first step is determining the deer population, he said. That number will help the city create a plan.

“Texas Parks and Wildlife will tell you if you’re overpopulated,” the city manager said. “Then we can identify what we can actually do. No decision has been made at this moment.”

One option is to capture and transport the deer. Projected cost is $150 per animal. To do that for 200 deer is $30,000.

“We’re still six months away (from deciding on what to do),” Nickel said. “We still have to do more communication of what we found out. There’s at least two letters going out. Our objective is not to wipe out the deer but to make it more healthy. Overpopulation is not good for anybody, especially the deer.”

The council members also
• were told the peddler ordinance needs to be updated. Part of that will allow peddlers to visit homes within a certain time during the day, Nickel said. No action was taken.
• were asked to think about the 50th anniversary of the city, which is in May. Nickel suggested the council allow a committee of citizens to plan the event. He hopes to have a diverse committee that represents the uniqueness of the residents who live there. Contact Nickel at citymanager@graniteshoals.org for more information.

jfierro@thepicayune.com