MINERAL WELLS — City Manager Randy Criswell outlined a $14 million spending plan for Mineral Wells on Tuesday.
The proposal is balanced, slightly more than $1,600 in the black, and includes 2-percent step raises for city staff. It also takes in a 10-percent increase in employee health insurance.
The budget is supported by a property tax rate proposed at slightly less than 69 cents per $100 in property value. Carried to its last decimal, the 0.6879056 rate would bring a $687.90 tax bill on a $100,000 home if no exemptions are claimed.
The Mineral Wells city council is scheduled to adopt the budget on Sept. 14. A public hearing on the tax rate, which is nearly identical to this year’s rate at about three-thousandths of a penny lower, is set for Sept. 7. The city’s fiscal year begins on Oct. 1.
The roughly $14 million water budget, which stands apart from the daily operations budget, is balanced while Criswell was able to add $116,000 for work on main lines.
The airport fund also stands alone, and is expected to see a $9,900 surplus by the end of this fiscal year. That money is slated for fire extinguishers, though Criswell said the airport board could offer other suggestions.
Criswell said the daily operations, water and smaller budgets such as airport and library accounts, put total spending for the coming year "in the $30 million range.”
The daily operations proposal also adds a full-time employee at the library.
This year’s budget enjoys a $4.7 million fund balance, part of which will be used to fund capital projects. Playground equipment valued at $172,000 is slated for Southeast Park.
Council members on Tuesday also urged Criswell to create a staff assistant to free him for his more demanding duties.
The city manager said he has heard misguided criticism from residents who think he is adding an assistant city manager position rather than an assistant to the city manager.
“This is not an assistant city manager,” he told the council.
And council members who responded were supportive of the position, including Mayor Pro Tem Doyle Light.
“I’ve told you many times to do that,” Light told Criswell. “We need you doing what you were hired to do. So, there it is for everybody — it was our decision.”
As proposed, the assistant position would earn $60,000 to $65,000, Criswell said. The city manager is paid $170,000.
“You absolutely need that position,” Mayor Regan Johnson added. "You don’t even have an administrative assistant to help with mundane things.”