Copperas Cove City council to propose tax rate, vote on city manager agreement, look at utility rate increases, discuss general and HOT fund requests
By LYNETTE SOWELL
The Copperas Cove city council is holding meetings and workshops on Tuesday and Thursday of this week related to the city’s proposed tax rate, utility rates and fees, as well as budget discussions for the fiscal year 2019-2020. It also plans to vote on an agreement for Ryan Haverlah as city manager.
On Tuesday, the council’s special meeting will start at 5:30 p.m. with a pair of public hearings regarding the city’s proposed budget as well as the Copperas Cove Economic Development Corporation’s budget for the next fiscal year.
The total proposed operating budget is $44,658,523. Included in the budget are the city’s major operating funds total $37,122,293, to include $18,191,185 for the General Fund, $13,889,410 for the Water & Sewer Fund, $4,719,408 for the Solid Waste Fund and $322,290 for the Golf Course Fund.
A promotion for Haverlah
The council will be receiving an agreement to officially hire Ryan Haverlah as the city manager for Copperas Cove, with a proposed annual salary of $155,000. The agreement sets his employment date as July 16, 2019 through July 15, 2023.
Haverlah was selected by the city council in June after a nearly 18-month process in June 2019 and had been interim city manager for the majority of that time. The proposed agreement, if approved by the council on Tuesday, will make things official.
In addition to the proposed salary, the agreement provides for health insurance, leave, vehicle allowance and retirement. The agreement also includes provisions that if Haverlah should be terminated by the council, he would be eligible for 18 months’ salary as well as six months of health insurance.
Following the discussion and vote on the agreement with Haverlah, the council will discuss the ordinance that relates to city council travel.
Tax rates, utility rates discussion
Immediately after Tuesday's special meeting, the council will hold a workshop to discuss the ad valorem tax rate for 2019-2020. The city's budget department has based the proposed budget on the current tax rate that has been in place for at least four years, of 79.7908 cents per $100 of property value. The effective and rollback tax rates, as calculated by Coryell County Tax Assessor/Collector Justin Carothers, will also be presented Tuesday to the council for discussion prior to proposing a tax rate.
Keeping the same tax rate will raise revenues by $275,203 compared to last year, a 2.61 percent increase. Of that amount, $200,714 is revenue from new property.
Water & Sewer, Solid Waste rates discussion
The council will also be discussing and giving direction on utility rates for water and sewer, and the solid waste fee.
In the proposed city budget for 2019-2020, a 1 percent increase in water and sewer rates has been factored in. Water & Sewer Fund revenues are projected to be $13,383,232 for fiscal year 2019-2020, which is $384,309, or 3 percent more than the current year, and includes revenue from the proposed increased rates. A 5.5 percent, or $1, increase in solid waste rates has been factored into the Solid Waste Fund budget. Through May 2019, the city's water cost was also shown to increase by 2 percent.
Historically, both the base water and sewer rates saw no increase from 2011-2017 and were both $11 per month, but there were base water and sewer rate increases for 2018 and 2019.
The city has raised its volumetric rates for both water and sewer incrementally every year, except for 2016. The solid waste fee saw an increase of $1 per month last year, with an increase in 2016 of 0.25 per month to purchase new containers.
The current base rate for residential water is $12 per month and the current base rate for sewer is $12 per month. The current volumetric rate for water is $4.75 per 1,000 gallons and the volumetric rate for sewer is $6 per 1,000 gallons. The current solid waste fee is $18 per month.
Thursday meeting: record vote to propose tax rate, divvy up General and HOT fund requests
On Thursday, August 1, at 5 p.m., the council will meet again to hold a record vote to propose the property tax rate that it will discuss Tuesday. That vote will be followed by the council setting dates for public hearing dates for the tax rate and a date to formally adopt the tax rate.
Following those actions, the council will be hearing from a number of local groups which are seeking assistance via the city’s General Fund, as well as groups requesting allocations from the city’s hotel occupancy tax fund revenues.
From the General Fund, the Boys & Girls Club of Copperas Cove is asking for $15,000 to aid with operations. Hill Country Community Action Association is asking for $5,000 to go toward its Meals on Wheels program in the city. The HOP Transit Service is asking for $98,089 to help fund its fixed route and complementary paratransit services. The Noon Exchange Club is requesting $4,032.50 for its annual Feast of Sharing in November.
After discussion of those requested expenditures, the council will then look at and discuss requests for hotel occupancy tax funds.
Requests have been submitted by the Five Hills Art Guild, the Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce, and the City of Copperas Cove Convention & Visitors Bureau.
The art guild is requesting $16,000 for the Art Fest at the Gap coming up in March 2020, to fund advertising, entertainment, signage, park rental, and other event expenses. The Copperas Cove Chamber of Commerce is requesting funds for its events to include Krist Kindl Markt ($17,400), Jack Rabbit Run $1,417, Rabbit Fest ($18,375), Summer Run to Fun ($1,962), the Gallop or Trot ($1,499), and to fund the Chamber itself ($106,695). Of that $106,695, the chamber proposes to use $24,313 for advertising and promotional programs for the city, such as local and regional publications, a “Copperas Cove Tourism Guide”, and more. The remaining $86,382.50 will be used to partly fund the chamber’s visitors’ bureau operations to include overhead such as building repairs and maintenance, office expenses, insurance, contract labor and payroll.
The City of Copperas Cove Convention and Visitors Bureau is requesting funds for its events to include Fall-o-Ween ($11,805), Tree Lighting ($12,550), Polar Bear Plunge ($8,325), Farmer’s Market ($3,400), Food Truck Festival ($19,225), and $75,147 to fund the CVB itself.
According to the proposed city budget, the city’s hotel occupancy tax fund has $283,651 in “available resources” for the upcoming fiscal year, with $167,337 already slotted into the budget for the city’s convention and visitors bureau expenditures, leaving a fund balance of $116,314.
The special meeting and workshops will take place at the city’s technology center, located at 508 S. 2nd St.