City of Marshall councilmembers addressed two agenda items on Thursday that officially raised the property tax in the city to about $0.57 per $100 valuation, as well as budget items to officially adopt the city’s 2022 budget.
This property tax increase means that for a home worth $100,000, annual property tax costs will go up by less than $13. Council first ratified the proposed tax rate, and then moved to adopt the ordinance, officially approving the rate.
The city also held two public hearings on the budget and the new tax rate during the meeting, during which no community members came forward to address the council.
A more in-depth look at the city’s new budget will be covered in the News Messenger at a later date.
Council also tabled a request by Public Works Director Eric Powell to allow staff to enter into an agreement with Schneider Electric Buildings America Inc., which the city has worked with for a number of years in relation to city hall.
The new agreement would allow the company to move forward with auditing and making suggestions on improvements to other city facilities, at the cost of $165,000 for the audit.
The city agenda states that the fee is only an exit fee, and if after the company completes the audit and the city chooses to move forward with any of the projects, the $165,000 will roll over into project costs.
Councilmember Amanda Abraham brought up a number of questions about the contract with company representatives, and made a motion to table the item to get more information on it before council makes a decision.
Council agreed, and officially tabled the item with plans to gather more information and discuss it more thoroughly at a later date.
City Manager Mark Rohr presented an update on the city’s Mobilize Marshall plan during the meeting Thursday.
“I think it’s important as an individual and as a city to have a direction, and have a goal in mind, and I think it drives and keeps the project disciplined,” Rohr said.
Rohr outlined the projects created within the Mobilize Marshall plan, discussing the changes that they have made to the city through the plan. He outlined the plans projects in its entirety, discussing what the city has been able to accomplish in the last two years, as well as what they plan to do in the future.
“This is the game plan I was given by council in June 2019 and this is what we use on a daily basis,” Rohr said. “I would be surprised if going forward that Marshall has three months that are successful as these three months.”
Councilmembers brought up concerns over the way the plan was presented to council, without details to each projects plans and costs. Councilmember Jennifer Truelove explained that as a new councilmember, being caught up on city projects is a key part of being kept in the loop.
Both Truelove and councilmember Micah Fenton said that they had never even seen the Mobilize Marshall plan previously.
Councilmembers conversation became contentious over the way that the plan should be created and presented, with Truelove stating that “this list is great, it is, but it just isn’t enough.”
“We are the representatives of this city, and we can do better. We need to communicate with each other,” Councilmember Vernia Calhoun said.
“I understand that there are issues with council over the Mobilize Marshall plan, with the way that it was presented,” Councilmember Leo Morris said. “He allowed everyone to say what they want to say, and they put it on the board, and everything that went on that board is now on the plan.”
Council also approved the purchase of an influent pump for the city’s wastewater treatment plant at the cost of $128,448.
The project was allowed to go right to the purchasing phase, without being put out to bids, due to two exceptions in the Texas statute that allowed the city to skip that step when addressing this issues.
Powell said that two of the six current influent pumps are at least 30 years old, with the other four pumps much younger than those.
Additionally, council approved City Community and Economic Development Director Fabio Angell’s request for one additional Small Business Grant Fund Application.
The grant is for Eva’s Barber Shop, at the maximum amount of $2,500. This grant approval is the city’s 48th grant fund to be given out through the program.
Angell said that the city also got an additional $24,000 in COVID-19 funding to utilize how they saw fit.
Council then broke into closed session at the end of the meeting to consider the annual evaluation of City Manager Mark Rohr. They tabled the item to be reconsidered at a later date.