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With $1M tax note, Granite Shoals departments to get vehicles, equipment

Granite Shoals replacing vehicles

This Ford Crown Victoria is one of the vehicles that will be replaced now that the Granite Shoals City Council approved a short-term tax note at its meeting Tuesday, Sept. 28. Staff photo by Jennifer Fierro

Granite Shoals water, streets, parks, fire, and police departments soon will get new vehicles and equipment after the City Council approved a $1.03 million short-term tax note at its regular meeting Tuesday, Sept. 28. Councilor Phil Ort was the only no vote against approving the loan.

The note is for five years at 1.03 percent interest and annual payments of $212,409.64. 

“A short-term tax note is tied to the property tax,” City Manager Jeff Looney said. “The taxes have to pay for it.”

Residents have paid the same tax rate for several years, although appraisal values have risen, which often increases the overall tax bill received. Municipalities have no say on appraisal values, which are set by the Burnet Central Appraisal District.

Before the council voted, Ort urged each councilor to vote no.

“I would like the council to consider what you’re doing right now,” he said. “We’re tying the hands of five councils in the future. Next year, we’ll have that (money) that we’ll spend on the cars and the trucks without having to take out bonds. We should think about this conservatively. We need things, but we don’t have to do it overnight. Use that money and prioritize what we need. I’d like the City Council not to do this.”

“Without an infusion of capital, we stay stagnant,” Councilor Steve Hougen countered. “I hate debt and I hate interest. I think we have to bite the bullet to get over the period of stagnation.”

Councilor Bruce Jones, who has been a council member for years, noted that other councils have passed on incurring more debt and said no to buying equipment. 

“On previous councils, we’ve struggled with this,” he said. 

Looney said the city is prepared for the unexpected.

“We do have reserve accounts to be fiscally responsible,” he said. “The police department in particular is suffering greatly for what they need. We felt (asking the council to approve the note) is the right thing to do. Nothing is ever free, but it’s about as close to free (based on the interest rate) as you can get.”

The police department will receive four 2022 sport-utility vehicles valued at $70,000 each to replace two 2013 and two 2014 vehicles. Each will have the police package that’s standard in the state. 

Police Chief Gary Boshears and Capt. Chris Decker said the 2022 vehicles will go to officers who patrol the streets to ensure safe and quick response times. Boshears and Decker will drive older squad cars. 

The fire department will purchase a “carry-all” vehicle. 

“It looks like a brush truck,” Looney said. “It’s a truck with a bed and a lot of equipment and a hose. It’s a cross between a brush truck and a fire truck.” 

The street department will receive a Hydrodig vehicle costing just under $250,000. Looney said it’s a “four-in-one piece of machinery” that can mow, dig, and more.

The streets and parks departments will receive two trucks costing $68,000 total that have paneled toolboxes on each side of the bed and meet safety standards and regulations set by the state.

The water department will get two, four-wheel-drive trucks that cost $120,000 total.

Vehicles and equipment will arrive in the city over the next several weeks.

jfierro@thepicayune.com