Council approves 2015-2016 budget, 2015 tax rate, says no to EDC budget


Cove Leader-Press


The Copperas Cove city council unanimously approved adopting the city's 2015-2016 budget, along with adopting the 2015 tax rate at its meeting on Tuesday night.

The total operating budget is $31,777,980. The amount included with other funds is $37,053.032. A downloadable copy of the entire 19-page document that encompasses all city funds can be found on the city's website.

The council also unanimously approved the tax rate of 79.708 cents per $100, which will bring in $127,121 more in revenue than last year.

“Of that full amount is tax revenue to be raised from new properties added to the tax rolls,” the city's budget director, Ryan Haverlah. “I want to point out to the council and the citizens that the new property that was added is actually in excess of that. The form that the state gives us does not allow us to include the full amount of revenue. So we actually saw a decrease in property tax revenue based on the same values from last year. Everything else is new.”

The Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation submitted its revised proposed budget to the council on Tuesday evening as well.

CCEDC board president Dan Yancey pointed out areas where the EDC budget was scaled back as requested, such as in the categories of business attraction travel, the financial services agreement budget, and said the EDC would look at eventually shutting down the digital sign after it is repaired.

He submitted only a 1 percent cost of living allowance for the EDC's staff, and indicated that the employee salaries for the last part of this current fiscal year would come in lower due to the executive director's departure. Yancey said originally the budget had reflected a “potential” merit increase, but that was taken out.

It was previously stated and reported that the EDC had proposed nearly 10 percent increase in employee salaries, but an EDC document from their recent meeting agenda on August 27 outlined employee salary histories for each staff member since 2006.

This salary history indicates the percentages of salary increases have varied over the years. Salaries include merit increases of 3% for most employees in 2015, and the highest pay increases in the past were a 15 percent hike in 2008 for the executive director, and a 17.64 percent increase in the office administrator salary, also in 2008.

In 2015, the executive director's salary increased by 1.96 percent, with the director of business development, office administrator, business retention specialist and the office coordinator receiving pay increases of 3.88, 4.82, 3.88 and 1.96 percent, respectively.

A discussion between Yancey and the council took place regarding the $50,000 for the Heart of Texas Defense Alliance remaining in the budget. Yancey tried to make the case for the value of HOTDA to the city, saying it was something the EDC felt is very important to Copperas Cove, that Copperas Cove and Killeen are the two cities closest to Fort Hood and the ones that would benefit the most from what HOTDA does for the area.

He said the first payment to HOTDA was $15,000 in 2005 by the city, and then the city requested the EDC continue the contract with HOTDA and pay for it.

“The EDC felt like at that particular point in time that it was very necessary for that advocacy group to be involved more closely with economic development in Copperas Cove,” Yancey said of the increase to $50,000 annually.

Councilman Mark Peterson asked Yancey about the invoice and what the minimum amount was required to remain a member of HOTDA. He said Ken Cox, the director of HOTDA, told him after the EDC meeting last week that the invoice should be $17,000.

“Being a steward of the taxpayers' money, I don't understand why we would pay $33,000 more a year than what we are invoiced for,” Peterson said. “Over the past eight years, we've actually given away from the city and our taxpayers $264,000.

“(The EDC) felt there was more that we would require than other surrounding towns. We have the most to gain,” Yancey said. He also said the city council has approved this amount yearly.

Despite the scaled back areas of the proposed and revised budget presented by Yancey, the council unanimously voted not to approve the budget due to the HOTDA line item and sent the budget back to the EDC.


Also at Tuesday's meeting

The council approved the purchase of additional single stream recycling containers, and authorized city manager Andrea Gardner to execute an arrangement with the city of Denton, Texas for the sale of equipment to that city.

The council authorized Gardner to enter into an agreement with Patillo, Brown, and Hill, LLP for the city's fiscal year 2015 audit.

The city council appointed five to the Copperas Cove Hospital board of directors, all incumbent applicants.

An employee benefits trust will be established, with the authorization of the city manager to enter into an agreement with Arthur J. Gallagher Benefit Services Inc.

The council appointed Lynn Blair to the Business Highway 190 Master Plan work group.

During the 5 p.m. workshop preceding the meeting, the following individuals were recognized for their years of employment with the city: David Wellington, Senior Animal Control Officer, 5 years; Joseph Ngiraklang, Parks Laborer, 10 years; Jose Velazco, Custodian, 10 years; Christopher "Chad" Cullar, Wastewater Operator II, 10 years; Thomas Brooks Jr., Wastewater Operator II, 10 years; Shannon Thompson, Communications Operator, 15 years; Roger Bekkerus, Fleet Lead Mechanic, 15 years.

During the citizens' forum, John Rachwitz, of 2405 Vernice Dr., recommended the city of Copperas Cove discuss naming a street after Shaye Haver, one of the first female Army Rangers and a graduate of both Copperas Cove High and West Point. Councilman George Duncan later recommended the council discuss that at a future time. 

Copperas Cove Leader Press

2210 U.S. 190
Copperas Cove, TX 76522
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