Levelland City Council held a regular meeting Monday night. There was a full house for the meeting, which the primary item was to set a proposed tax rate for 2019-2020.
Jim Cole spoke during the public forum speaking against the proposed tax rate and the salary increases. He stated that a large percentage of property tax payers are senior citizens that don’t get a raise. He urges the council to consider the seniors when looking at proposed tax increases. It is important to point out that property taxes are frozen on homesteads for senior citizens.
Ty Gregory spoke during the public forum. He said, we never like to see a budget deficit. He noted that Lubbock is a billion dollars in debt. He said, we must plan for a down turn in the economy and must re-build the rainy day fund, but don’t do it with tax increases. We have to plan for unforeseen items and we can’t depend on sales tax to continue to increase, they are starting to decrease. He did note that Levelland is one of the highest taxed areas. We are overtaxed on the rate and citizens are getting hit pretty hard. He noted if the city chose the effective tax rate the citizens still have a 4% tax increase. He said we have to do the best we can to draw people to Levelland.
Billy Mack Palmer spoke during the public forum speaking in reference to tax increases continuing over years past. He said if this keeps going there will be some bad looking property. He said the city just needs to tighten their belt and not raise taxes and cut budget.
Richard Ellis spoke during the public forum thanking the council for their work over the past week. He urged that if the city has the same needs next year and we don’t have growth what are we going to do. The town cannot sustain without planning.
Following the public forum portion of the meeting, the council discussed the proposed tax rate of .725. This would be the maximum rate and the adopted rate could be lower. With no discussion, Councilwoman Breann Buxkemper made a motion to set the proposed tax rate at 68 cents/$100 property value, Jim Myatt immediately seconded the motion and it passed with Myatt, Buxkemper and Max Ledesma voting in favor and JoeBill Vardeman voting against. The proposed tax rate is two cents per $100 property value lower than the current rate. City administration had prepared a balanced budget with a cost of living adjustment with the suggested rate of 72.5 cents per $100 property value. This budget was after many cuts being made, city staff has said in recent meeting services would have to be cut in order to have a lower tax rate. Following the passage, Mayor Barbra Pinner said “it will be a tough budget year.” Buxkemper said she believes cuts can be made to balance the budget with a lower rate.
The council also approved a project agreement with LEDC and Envirotech Services.
The council approved a resolution approving encroachment license agreements between City of Levelland and Hockley Cochran County Association of Retired Teachers for their little library project. It allows some of the little libraries to be located on city parks.
The council also approved going out for bid for improvements to the Wastewater Treatment Plant Pivot system. It was approved on a unanimous vote..
the council approved appointing Barry Royal to the Levelland Community Development Board.
the council also approved appointment of Derek Dunn to the Levelland Airport Advisory board.
The council also approved appointment of Ty Gregory to fill a vacancy on the Tax Increment Reinvestment Zone Board number 1.
The council also approved appointment of Pete Cunningham and Devin Sonnenburg to the Levelland Planning and Zoning Commission.
The council also approved appointment of Ray Scifres the Zoning Board of Adjustment.
The council was also made aware of the appointment of Cindy Terzenbach to the Levelland Housing Authority Board by the Mayor. By state statute, the Mayor has sole authority to make the appointment.