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Council seeks tax increase, approves expenditures

The Friona city council meetings are usually less than an hour but Monday’s meeting extended to two hours. The agenda was heavy on financial matters, approving the 2014 fiscal budget, approving a property tax rate, and authorize the city manager to transfer funds for several expenditures.

The council met at 6:30 p.m. Monday with all members present, plus city manager Patricia Phipps, city attorney Slater Elza, and deputy city secretary Rosa Mendez.

After roll call, pledge of allegiance, and invocation, Chief Appraiser Jill Timms from the Parmer County Appraisal District reviewed property tax rates. After discussion the council approved an increase from 0.7942 to 0.7992 per $100 valuation. Two public hearings were set for comments. See the notice in this Star.

-- The Atmos Energy franchise to serve the city was approved.

-- No action was taken on a cash lease on 73.253 acres of city property east of town. One bid had been submitted but an issue with water rights delayed a decision.

-- Waste collection rates to Republic Services were approved for a 1.8% increase.

-- City manager Phipps told of plans to install a sprinkler system at the Reeve Lake playground area.

-- Phipps was authorized by council vote to transfer certain funds in Heritage Estates and Prairie Acres escrow accounts to pay for roofing the properties and to transfer funds from the sewer escrow account to purchase a new grinder pump.

-- Police Chief Isidro Jimenez reported the department had 259 calls for service in July, made four felony arrests, and issued 47 citations. Andrew Aguirre should complete his Amarillo College law enforcement course August 28 and will join the police force. Former officer Jesus San Miguel, who left to join the Sheriff’s Office, has now rejoined the Friona PD.

-- Discussions were held to provide health insurance to Prairie Acres employees. Based on calculations of the number of employees eligible the cost would be $407.57 per month per employee with a $5,000 deductible. The cost was estimated to be $140,000 per year. No action was taken.

-- A proposal has been received to construct duplexes in the block between 6th and 7th and Ashland and Woodland, owned by the Friona Economic Development Corporation. The builder asked the city to provide water and sewer taps and offer a tax abatement. City attorney Elza said he thought if might be illegal to provide such assistance. No action was taken.

-- A new radio control system for the north water well was approved at a cost of approximately $40,000. City manager Phipps was authorized to purchase a new mower for the cemetery but she said they would probably wait and plan the cost into the next budget. She also stated that the sprinkler system at the cemetery had been repaired and they would be watering consistently now.

The meeting was adjourned at 8:14 p.m. The next council meeting is Monday September 8 at 6:30 p.m. at 619 Main St. All council meetings are open to the public.