— By BRIAN SMITH
Weatherford City council members Tuesday night approved a fiscal year 2014 budget totaling $25.2 million.
The budget takes effect Oct. 1. Some of the changes include upping the city’s funding of street materials from $663,000 to $902,000 and adjusting cost-of-living allowances for retirees from 70 percent of the rate of inflation to 50 percent, which drew the attention of one retiree who was the only person who spoke at a public hearing two weeks ago on the issue.
The council also approved a tax rate of 46.36 cents per $100 valuation, the same as in 2012, to fund the budget. Maintenance and operations will take up 29.2 cents with interest and sinking
absorbing the other 17.16 cents. Council members briefly considered a 1.35-cent tax increase to help provide additional street funding but opted not to do that.
Because of increased property valuations, the tax rate will bring in an additional $168,425 over the current year’s ad valorem revenue, officials said. More than $95,000 of that additional revenue is from new property added to tax rolls over the last 12 months.
In other business during the 22-minute regular session, council members agreed to enter into a new contract with Weatherford ISD, requiring the city to provide four school resource officers.
The city had provided four SROs to WISD for many years but due to the district’s budgetary constraints back in the 2010-11 budget year, the number was cut back to three. Because of security concerns, WISD officials decided to go back to four officers, Manning said.
The present contract requires one half of the salary and benefits, up to $132,000, to be paid by the city on a quarterly basis. The new contract requires one half of salary and benefits for four officers, up to $160,000, to be paid by the city on a quarterly basis.
Police Chief Mike Manning said in a staff report the city is able to absorb the additional officer position by reducing patrol officers by one and moving them into an SRO position. If economic conditions improve, the patrol position will be replaced.
Manning said SROs are placed at the high school and Ninth Grade Center with the other officer rotating among the middle and elementary schools as needed. He said there is no set schedule as to when officers will be at certain schools.
Resident Bobbie Narramore questioned the need for the additional school resource officer, saying that if there were security problems at the schools they should be reported in the paper.
Council members also OK’d entering into contracts with three companies to provide street materials for the upcoming year.
Narramore questioned why residents were not advised as to which streets would receive asphalt, concrete and other street work. City Manager Jerry Blaisdell said the items were for street materials only and the determination of what streets would be worked on with what materials haven’t been determined.