Henrietta avoids tax hike with increased revenues

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With an increase in sales tax revenues, Henrietta city residents will not see an increase in property tax rates for the next fiscal. It will be only the second time that rates have not increased in the last six years.

Monday, the Henrietta City Council approved an ad valorem tax rate of 79.89 cents per $100 in market value for the 2015 fiscal year, the same rate collected in 2014.

The city has also seen an increase in taxable values, up $2.26 million in 2014 for a net value of $111,375,440. Henrietta’s taxable value decreased in 2010 and 2011, but returned to normal in 2013.

Both increases are signs of growth in the Henrietta economy, including the new Pecan Shed location on Hwy. 287 and the sale of alcohol inside the city limits, said City Administrator Kelley Bloodworth.

The city’s maintenance and operations will be funded by 74 percent of property taxes collected. The remaining 28 percent will go to the city’s interest and sinking fund, set aside to pay debt obligations. The city is already paying bonds, a $3.2 million loan for the 2010 water project that matures in 2036, and a $1.8 bond for a 1986 project that will mature in 2026. Both bonds funded improvements necessary to meet state requirements.

The city is also building a reserve fund, which as of Aug. 1 has grown to $1.07 million, something that was nonexistent three years ago.

“When I first came, there were times when I worried that we couldn’t make payroll,” said Bloodworth.

When the 2014 fiscal year closes Sept. 30, the city budget shows a carry-over of $50,005. Bloodworth expects to do slightly better due to the increase in sales tax, as well as the council’s decision to not open the city pool and bulk water sales.

With revenues of $2.99 million feeding the city’s 2015 budget of $2.87 million, Henrietta will add an addition $121,323 to the reserve.

Workers continue to clear a property at the intersection of Hwy. 148 and Hwy. 287 in Henrietta to make way for a travel center and restaurant. Once up and operational, the business will further add property value and sales tax revenue to the city coffers.

Monday, the council approved a request from the city water department allowing the Henrietta Growth Corp. to pay $32,450, approximately half the cost, for improvements to the south wastewater treatment plant. The funds will go toward the purchase and installation of a second screw pump at the south plant, a $64,900 project. The south sewer plant will service the travel center, as well as several other businesses along Hwy. 287, including Four Stars Auto Ranch, The Pecan Shed and Best Western.

The council approved a $35,000 grant management agreement with Traylor and Associates, Inc., and a $25,000 engineering agreement with Biggs and Matthews, Inc., for management of a Texas Capital Funds grant to fund the construction of utilities for the travel center.

In other business, the council reappointed Jeralyn Parkey and Wade Bryant to the HGC board and approved the closure of Ikard, Gilbert and Main streets around the courthouse square during the H2O Motorcycle Rally and Car Show, a fundraiser for clay county’s volunteer fire departments, from 9 a.m.- 2 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 4.

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Matt Kelton

Matt Kelton began working for community newspapers at 19 and has since won numerous awards. He founded The Pioneer Sentinel in 2011 with the belief that a locally owned news source best represents a community. Matt is a fifth generation resident of Clay County.

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