City discusses employee needs, road repairs during public hearing
The City of Graham hosted a public hearing for their proposed budget and tax rate Thursday. Discussions were held back and forth with a Graham resident and city representatives regarding the rate set by the city, employee raises and the city’s emphasis on road repairs.
The city is proposing a 3% raise for city employees, or approximately $102,000, which would require a rate of $0.61 per $100 valuation. If the city proposes the same rate as last year of $0.605 per $100 valuation, the city would levy $2,212,108.08 in taxes compared with the $2,073,840.43 raised last year with the same rate. Graham City Manager Brandon Anderson said Thursday he proposed the city should move forward with the same rate as last year of $0.605 per $100 valuation while funding a 3% raise for employees which can be achieved through conservative budgeting.
“What we ran into when I was first here, we were budgeting approximately $2.4 million in sales tax revenue and one year we only took in $1.8 million. That’s a $600,000 shortfall. The last couple of years, we have totally flipped that script and moved that budgeted item (...) to $1.8 million and slowly worked it back up. It’s around 2.2 (million) because our sales tax has recovered. But this year, we are actually taking in more than we had even budgeted last year to the tune of about $350,000. That’s needed to help recover our fund balance within the general fund, but I believe they’ll be some of those reserve funds that would help cover that deficit. That deficit is going to be about $20,000 between the difference of $0.61 and $0.6050,” Anderson said.
The council is proposing in the 2021-2022 budget to add $100,000 in street maintenance, taking the fund from approximately $250,000 to $350,000. During the public hearing Thursday, resident Sonya Romos said people online see the raises and wonder why the money for raises cannot be placed toward needed repairs around the city, such as road repairs. Council member Jack Little said upon becoming a city council member he has been able to see how much of an impact the city crew make on operations within the community.
“If you’ve got those concerns and you really care and you don’t want to just make a scene on Facebook, I challenge you to go out and see actually what takes place. I know the big leak we had over by the high school (...) during Lu Allen Friday night. I mean just a humongous leak. I (...) had been out of town (and) come in and (...) I go out there and it is about 10:30 (p.m.) and we’ve got five people out there (working) because we got a tournament. We’ve got a major leak, I mean it tore up road and everything, and our crew was out there. (...) let me tell you, I don’t know about fixing streets, but I know about work and I know about people that work and our guys just did a fantastic job. (...) to be able to see that and appreciate the value, because we had schools from all over the country (...). I think the biggest thing that held us up was trying to get somebody from Fort Worth to try to find the lines, but you see what goes on and we do have problems,” he said. “I know it’s not consolation, but go to Jacksboro, go to Breckenridge. Every town has road problems right now. Every town has money problems, but what we do have to have (is) we have to have people. We have got to have people and we are struggle to get people filling out applications and it’s all about that pay. It’s not about (...) raising people up to an exemplary amount, it’s about just where we can live, where we can provide for families and take care of a much needed service in our city.”
For the rest of the story, see the Sept. 8 edition of The Graham Leader.