ATHENS–Athens City Council members voted to decrease the tax rate for fiscal year 2020 to .680221 per $100 valuation. No one came forward to speak during the public hearing on the half-cent decrease in city taxes.
Athens Mayor Monte Montgomery said, “ I am so pleased because of where we are financially and where we are with our budget, the confidence we have in our staff and this budget with how it was brought forward…I have confidence in this budget more than I have in years, so if we did want to consider not just the mandatory half cent tax (reduction) but the full one penny tax (reduction), I’m for that…I understand we have unforseens every year, but because of where we are, if we were ever going to do it, this would be the year to do it.”
Other city council members spoke in favor of leaving it at the half cent reduction, pointing out the Cain Center project and the lack of a 90-day rainy day fund as reasons. Councilman Robert Gross also mentioned taking care of city retirees first (in light of having reduced the COLA for retirees in last year’s budget.)
Council heard the first reading of an ordinance to adopt the budget for 2019-20 with total revenues at $11,331,420 and expenditures of $11,250,986. Final reading is set for Sept. 9.
Trinity Valley Community College Foundation Executive Director Dr. Kristen O. Bennett joined with Mayor Montgomery in presenting the City of Athens Scholarships to TVCC Students Malorie Willingham, Kianna Madsen, Gerardo Costilla, Harley Wilson, Enrique Hernandez and Abigail Soto. Bennett said, “Our partnership is very, very important…these scholarships have a lasting impact on our students and for generations to come.”
The scholarships were part of the city’s agreement with the college when the armory property was sold to the college.
In other business, council members:
• approved an ordinance amending Sanitation Fees for residential, commercial and industrial customers.
• approved specific use permit for a 105 feet monopole communication tower for 852 East Corsicana Street.
• approved an ordinance requiring a specific use permit for use of mobile homes and HUD-Code manufactured homes in Agriculture, single family -7 and single family 5 zoning districts.
• removed a requirement for a specific use permit for check cashing service and loan agencies within office and retail zoning districts.