Mayor's Update #1: Flood, Budget, HOT Funds, Council Meetings
By Mayor Bruce Peele
September 11, 2015
Having now served as Mayor of Blanco for approximately four months, it is time to update the City’s citizens on the current state of the City. The City Council and I have been working hard to correct some long standing issues for the betterment of our community, now and in the future. I hope this series of Updates will be informative and challenging, spurring increased citizen involvement the affairs of the City and in the planning for its future.
Flood. Obviously, the most important occurrence in the past four months was the Blanco River Flood and the tremendous outpouring of citizen support in the recovery efforts. I will say more about this in a later Update but, simply said, Blanco is blessed with an abundance of generous, hardworking, “roll up your sleeves and get to work” citizens who are on the verge of completing the recovery effort. We all owe these volunteers a great deal of gratitude!
Budget. The Blanco budget process has just concluded. Keeping the tax rate at last year’s level, the City Council approved a General Fund Operational budget of $1,540,798 and a Water/Wastewater budget of $1,379,388 for the new fiscal year beginning October 1st. We will spend $110,000 in the next year repairing and paving our City streets and $50,000 repairing and upgrading the sewer system. We are hiring more police officers and are supporting the EMS, the Fire Department, and the Library. Repairs to the City’s Water Plant will force us to pull approximately $300,000 out of the City’s reserves.
The City has received an unexpected notice from Blanco County that the charge for the Sheriff’s Dispatch Service will increase from the current $400per month to $2,600.00per month. We included the larger amount in the budget but have not yet agreed to pay the charge. We are currently working with the County to in an effort to reach an agreement.
From the current year’s budget, we’re upgrading the electrical infrastructure in Bindseil Park to support the Christmas Trail of Lights as well as a new “Arts in the Park” program being developed by one of our volunteer citizens’ committees. We’ve also purchased a street patching machine to help us fix potholes and deteriorated roadsides.
Budgets for the last two years as well as the just approved budget for next year are available on the City’s website at www.cityofblanco.com.
HOT Funds. The Hotel Occupancy Tax (HOT) funds have been removed from the City’s operating budget and placed in a separate account. These are tax dollars generated by Blanco’s motels and B&Bs that, by statue, can only be spent to promote tourism to the City. I have appointed a special committee to recommend changes to the old HOT Funds Committee composition as well as an equitable, business-like procedure for allocation of HOT funds to include cost/benefit analyses.
Council Meetings. Council meets every 2nd Tuesday at 6pm in the Byars Building, two doors up from City Hall. I urge all interested Blanco citizens to attend these meetings to see your City Government at work and make your voice heard.
M. Bruce Peel, Mayor