Levelland City Council met last night in a budget work session.
Before the work session started the council deliberated in executive session to discuss property, however there was no action taken in open meeting.
The budget work session began with the Mayor continuing to question the fact that the city has too much equipment and too many vehicles. He claims that equipment and vehicles are not sold when new ones are purchased. It was noted that some equipment is kept to provide parts or as a back-up unit. Council member Manuel Mendez also questioned why the city will sometimes move equipment from one department from another–it was noted that this is done on many occasions but is tracked through the city records. Mendez said he feels that equipment should never be moved to another department. The Mayor also requested that the city put old equipment in the auction the school district has each year to get rid or old equipment, noting, that the current system of auctioning off old equipment in an online auction is not feasible because people never know when it is ongoing. It is worth noting that the city publishes notice on the radio and newspaper when the auction is run.
It was noted that the Cemetery department was requesting a new pickup to replace a 2000 model, the Mayor stated he went to the Cemetery and looked at the pickup and he sees no problem with it and stated it did not need replaced.
Manuel Mendez also questioned the cities policy on paying overtime to employees. It was pointed out that the city has a policy which states that vacation time is counted as hours worked and sick leave is not. That is the policy currently in the personnel policy and has been for years. The council will review the personnel policy at a later date. Mendez said the policy for OT must be changed to save taxpayers money.
It was also discussed as part of the water department budget that the city needs to budget to purchase new water meters to start replacing aging water meters that are failing. It was pointed out that the water meters in use are electronic read meters and are 10 years old and are beginning to fail and not read properly thus the city is losing revenue.
As a part of the budget worksession a detailed discussion was held concerning the new landfill which will likely open ahead of schedule and will also likely come in under budget. It was noted that the city is currently renegotiating the contract with Republic Services based on the new landfill being open by the end of this year.
There was little discussion on employee raises at this budget meeting, however, Manuel Mendez stated that he had attended a new councilmember training and he stated that the City Council needs to do an annual employee evaluation on the City Manager. The council is given the chance each January, however they deny each year. Mendez said that an annual evaluation is a necessity so that we have documentation, even stating that former councils “dropped the ball” in this by not doing the evaluations. It is noted that raises for city employees are not based on performance.
The city manager did state to city council that the tax office has not released taxable values as of yet, however, the city will likely see an 11% increase in taxable values, meaning that the tax rate will likely go down. The city manager will bring proposed rate increases for water, sewer and garbage fees for this year, noting that the average bill would see an increase of $3 per month increase.