JENNIFER FIERRO • STAFF WRITER
GRANITE SHOALS — Citing a cost-of-living increase for employees, bringing up the city’s reserve fund and an increase in stray animal services, Granite Shoals officials are eyeing a property tax hike for the coming year, but not before residents can have a say in the matter.
City manager Ken Nickel said the council is looking at an ad valorem rate of no more than 52.07 cents per $100 valuation, up from a previous rate of 51.98 cents. The council is holding a public hearing Aug. 25 to get input from city residents regarding the proposed rate and the 2015-16 budget.
A vote for adoption is set for Sept. 8. The city must adopt a new rate and budget by Sept. 30, the end of the current fiscal year.
The proposed rate would add $32.14 to a city property tax bill for a home valued at $100,000, unless the resident’s taxes are frozen.
Nickel said he asked for the increase for a variety of reasons, including building up the city’s reserve fund. Granite Shoals currently has about $300,000 in its “savings,” which would cover about 36 days of operating expenses. The state requires 90 days.
“Our general fund has a small surplus in the budget,” he said. “We’ll continue to work toward getting a reserve to cover 90 days, but we’re not there yet.”
Along those lines, the city wants to give its employees a 3-percent, cost-of-living pay increase.
“You want to keep your strong workforce,” Nickel said. “We have more skills in this city than we had previously. That’s something I want to keep, that level of competence and commitment. I’m very supportive of the staff.”
Nickel said the city is also increasing its payment to the Hill Country Humane Society, which operates the Christ-Yoder Animal Shelter and Adoption Center in Buchanan Dam. The city contracts with the organization to use the shelter for animal control drop-offs and related services. The new contract is $15,700, up from $4,300.
The increase in the contract is a reflection of how much the city of Granite Shoals utilizes the facility and its services, Nickel added.
The city is earmarking an additional $50,000 for street paving in the coming fiscal year, though the overall budget for the street department is decreasing.
Other expenses at which the city is looking in the coming year include replacing two police vehicles with new ones at a cost of about $125,000.
The Aug. 25 public hearing is 6 p.m. in the council chambers, 2221 N. Phillips Ranch Road. Go to graniteshoals.org and click on the “Financial Transparency” link on the left side of the screen for more budget information.