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City retains garbage contractor, sets budget vote

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Bandera’s City Council decided in a split vote on Thursday, Sept. 17, to retain Republic Services as its garbage collector and to consider appointing someone to the seat that had been vacated by former Councilwoman Lynn Palmer in the next few weeks rather than waiting until after the November election to fill the post.

In addition, council held a public hearing and a workshop earlier this week on the $3.2 million budget proposed for next year as it moves toward a vote on the budget and the property tax rate that will support it on Thursday, Sept. 24.

The proposed property tax rate of 49.5014 cents per $100 valuation is a fraction-of-a-cent lower than the current rate of 49.83 cents per $100 valuation but is identified as the rate that would bring in no new revenue to the city even though property values in the city have risen.

When property values rise, total taxes increase if the same tax rate were used. Taxes would stay the same only if the tax rate was reduced enough to compensate for the increase in the taxable value of property.

The proposed budget, which contains almost $100,000 less revenue than the current budget but gets a seven-year street improvement project started as a result of a $500,000 allocation from funds left in reserve following the 2018-2019 audit, and the proposed tax rate have not generated much comment so far, but that could change this week.

Council members said they have been looking for ways to cut spending in some areas, particularly in the area of overtime expenses, but needed to examine the numbers more closely before making a final recommendation.

The budget and property tax rate for the year that starts on Oct. 1 and amendments to the current budget will be voted on when council meets at 5:30 p.m. Thursday in the Municipal Building at 511 Main St. in Bandera.

Council had taken an extended look at hiring a new contractor for garbage collection in the city and appointed a team to evaluate the bids that came in from three companies who bid on the contract earlier this year.

Republic Services received the highest score of the three, though it was only 1 point higher than the second ranked firm.

It eventually won the nod from council to renegotiate a new contract for the service, though Mayor Suzanne Schauman needed to cast the tie-breaking vote in favor of the firm after council split 2-2 on the motion to grant the contract to Republic.

Council members Don Clark and Rosie Smith had supported the proposition, while Council members Jerry Russe and Rebeca Gibson had opposed it.

Schauman said she supported Republic because it had done a great job for the city in the past, was not planning to increase its rates this year and could carry on as the garbage collector with no down time, which might be needed if a new contractor came in.

In the vote to enable the current council to appoint a replacement for Councilwoman Palmer, only Councilwoman Gibson voted against the proposition.

She said she preferred that the appointment await the results of the November election to give newly elected council members the opportunity to make the selection, but she also said she was happy to see the post filled quickly.

Russe said he saw no good reason to wait for a new council to make the appointment but also said council will need to examine the qualifications of those who apply for the nomination and may delay the vote if they feel more applicants are needed

Interested applicants for the post have until 5 p.m. Friday, Sept. 25, to submit their applications for the council post to Bandera City Hall. Council plans to appoint a replacement for Palmer on Oct. 1.

Palmer resigned from council in August, too late for her replacement to be decided in the upcoming general election.