Sep

23

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : September 23, 2016

By Emmalee Doss
Monitor Correspondent
MABANK–The Mabank City Council adopted a budget for 2017 FY, which starts Oct. 1, 2016 with an adjusted opening balance of about $915,000. Under the current property tax rate of 46.3364 cents per $100 property value it expects to raise another $936,443.
Sales tax revenue is estimated to bring in $1,087,500 and the franchise tax another $195,000. With the addition of fees for licenses, permits, fines and forfeitures, charges for trash removal interest on investments and property and other funding sources, total $2,993,119. The total available for the 2017 budget totals $3,908.266.
The budget allocates $208,100 to the volunteer fire department and $649,271 to the police department. The police budget fell by nearly $30,000 from last year’s total expenditures, notably $12,000 from regular salaries and nearly $6,000 deduction on the annual salary for the police chief. The Street Department is operating on a budget nearly $10,000 slimmer than last year.
The Sanitation department saw an increase of a little less than $59,000, with a boost in personnel. The library budget totals $41,330, the senior citizen services, including Star Transit annual fee of $3,120, totals $23,120. The Parks and Recreation department gets $196,968 with a capital outlay of $30,000 for improvements to parking and $88,268 in salaries and wages.
The city utility budget totals $5,299,172 with proceeds from customers, bond notes and sewer grant funding totaling $3,066,400. Total expenditures budgeted at $3,719.685, leaving a surplus of $1,579.487 for the beginning of FY2018. Capital improvements planned for the water and sewer system totals $563,000.
To fund the convenience of accepting credit card transactions, the Mabank City Council approved a 3 percent fee or $5 minimum for payments using an electronic transfer of funds. The implementation of this fee is still being researched, city manager Bryant Morris told The Monitor.
“The problem is at the end of the year the city has this business fee for using an electronic transfer system, which we hope to cover by the equitable sharing of the cost among those who enjoy this convenience,” Morris said. Once properly implemented, this addition will apply to the payment of utility service, permits, and fees.
In other business Sept. 13, council members:
• contracted with Star Transit as part of the county-wide bus system, for service in Mabank based on population numbers for $3,120 a year or $260 monthly, beginning Oct. 1.
• appointed Angela Dewitt to a two-year term on the Board of Commissioners of the Housing Authority of the City of Mabank. She replaces Linda Barrett, who is coming off the board.
• heard that the First Presbyterian Church of Mabank will have a Guest Speaker at 7 p.m., Wednesday, Sept 28.
• allowed the EDC to partner with J Tres properties to build two buildings on the corner lots on Market Street.

Sep

23

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : September 23, 2016

Monitor Staff Reports
KEMP–This week a Kemp teacher was charged with engaging in sexual communication with a minor by use of technology, the result of an investigation taken up by authorities in Oklahoma where he was previously employed. Joseph Kolt Palmer was booked into the Kaufman County jail Sept. 20 on the out-of-state charge. Palmer, 27, was hired this year by Kemp ISD to serve as a P.E. teacher at the junior high school.
Kemp ISD Superintendent Phil Edwards said he had no knowledge of the investigation or that he was criminally charged until a television news reporter informed him the day before the arrest. He further said that a background check returned a clean record. Palmer claimed that Kemp ISD would be his first teaching job.
However, that wasn’t true, he had taught at Yale High School in Oklahoma. He was terminated in May 2015, for inappropriate relationship with a student. After law enforcement began investigations into allegations of his cell phone behavior with some of the female students, he moved away.
About a month ago, he moved to Texas and sought employment as a teacher. His resume and application left off his teaching in Oklahoma, and he had not been charged at that time.

Sep

21

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : September 21, 2016

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
KAUFMAN–The Kaufman County Commissioners adopted the 2017 fiscal year county budget, 3-2, Monday with commissioners Jimmy Vrzalik and Ken Schoen opposed. Precinct 1 Commissioner Vrzalik described the reset salaries, expenses and other allowances of all elected county and precinct offices as “vastly unfair. No way the citizens of Kaufman County should support this,” he said.
The general fund totals $39,317,896, that’s a little more than $2,000,000 more than last year, reflective of $600 pay raises to all elected officials, along with allowances for cell phone expenses, use of personal car for justices of the peace; and longevity pay, most less than $100. Three noted exceptions are County Judge of $2,457.12, and $1,736 for Precincts 3 and 4 Justices of the Peace.
With a 97 percent tax collection rate, the county estimates collecting $31,245,704. Additional revenues from fees, sales tax on mixed drinks sales, interest, and other revenues, such as a federal contract to house prisoners adds another $8.8M.
The commissioners adopted a tax rate of 58.87 cents per $100 of taxable property value, which is estimated to raise $4,530,386.44, an increase of 10.81 percent of which $1,136,938.41 comes from new property added to the tax roll this year. The tax rate reflects a 2.18 percent increase over last year’s rate. Within that rate structure the portion set aside for road and bridge funding increased from 8.67 cents per $100 to 9.20 cents.
The sole person addressing the commissioners during the last public hearing on the budget came from Precinct 3 Constable Keith Stephens, who opposed losing funding for a part-time position that would impact the office’s work load of serving 538 papers so far this year. Earlier, Stephens had resisted aiding the tax office in Terrell in making daily bank deposit runs on its behalf. Precincts 1 and 2 constables said they would do it, so commissioners split a $20,000 funding for the part-time position between the two willing constable offices to make the deposits in Precinct 3, Judge Wood explained to The Monitor.
In other business, commissioners:
• changed the personnel handbook regarding the rehire of former retired employees to stipulate a minimum of three calendar months since retiring before rehiring.
• reappointed Randy Richards as Kaufman County Fire Marshal
• approved the purchase of issued handguns at 50 percent fair market value to retiring officers Keith Ramsey and Tim Spillman for $218.33.
• adopted the County Clerk’s Records Archive Plan of charging a $10 fee until 2019 for the recording of documents.
• approved a memorandum of understanding with North Central Texas Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging, where the county contributes $13,000 and gets back $300,000 worth of services. “Seems a pretty good deal for the citizens of Kaufman County,” Precinct 2 Commissioner Ken Schoen said.