Mineral Wells city council

MINERAL WELLS — Fees and fines were the topic of the Mineral Wells City Council's first budget workshop last week, with round two set for the hour before Tuesday's regular meeting.

New City Manager Dean Sullivan is asking the council to hold a series of short workshops as he prepares his first citywide budget. The city's fiscal year begins Oct. 1.

Sullivan and Finance Director Jason Breisch kicked off the first workshop telling the council a city fee has to follow three rules — the city can't profit from it, the fee must serve a public purpose and if a fee is excessive it is considered an illegal tax.

"Remember, we're not in the money-making business," Breisch said. "Every cent we make can — and it must — go back into providing services for the citizens."

The council does not take formal action during these workshops, so no fees have changed for now. The fee discussions are en route to a Master Fee Schedule, taking some fees that are in ordinances out of that confining setting.

"And that sometimes can be problematic," Sullivan said. "Because if we want to change a fee, we've got to change it in a lot of places. (A master schedule) will give the citizens one place to go and look at all the various fees."

Fees discussed last week included use of the swimming center, background checks for door-to-door peddlers, spaying/neutering and microchipping pets at the animal shelter, building inspections and ambulance rides, among others.

The council also looked at fines including for false alarms that send emergency crews out needlessly.

Tuesday's workshop is at 5 p.m. with the regular council meeting starting at 6 p.m.

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