By Jan White
CROCKETT – At the Crockett City council meeting held on Thursday, May 19, the 2023 Fiscal Year budget took center stage as members heard capital requests.
The first agenda items tackled were the police and fire department activity and status reports for April. Police Chief Clayton Smith reported that 13 officers were working 2,606 hours. The department received 564 calls, 15 accidents, 39 arrests, and 196 traffic stops.
Smith noted that the theft reports were high, and the majority came from Walmart. Fire department calls were down approximately 21% from the prior month.
City Administrator John Angerstein reported on Texas Commission on Environmental Quality violations received. A recorded video posted on their website and Facebook showed the administrator explaining the nature of the violations and the remediation of the issues. The violations were operational/procedural and not contamination or water quality problems.
Angerstein then moved on to the departmental capital requests submitted for next year’s fiscal budget. Preliminary values were received from the appraisal district, and those values went from about $302 million to $330 million. Angerstein explained that just because the values increased, this doesn’t mean the city will bring in more revenue. Regulations state the city can’t bring in more than 3.5% of the revenue from the previous year. That means there is only $49k in additional revenue from which the city will benefit. Angerstein indicated that budget cuts would have to be made in some areas to balance out increases in items such as fuel and material costs. Angerstein also suggested that another way to increase revenue would be a tax increase, but that would require a city election.
Among the capital requests was an appeal from the Crockett Fire Department to hire two additional employees. Currently, the department is mainly made up of volunteers, but a lack of responders can cause a breach of protocols required by law. The addition of two firefighters would ensure that the fire department fulfills the staffing required. “Volunteerism, as a whole, is dying,” said Fire Chief Jason Frizzell, explaining his request for additional paid staff.
Smith then submitted his request for a new police car, stating that he initially would have liked to replace the oldest three vehicles, which are now six, seven, and eight years old and require more maintenance. “We asked for three,” Smith said, “but we’d be grateful for whatever we get. I understand that we’ve got pretty tight constraints this year.”
Other budgetary items presented were salaries and operational equipment needed. When asked if there were any backup financial sources to tap into to help alleviate the cost of some of the expenditures, Angerstein stated that the only two sources of revenue the city has at this time are cash reserves or the money from the funds currently being used to repair water, sewer, and infrastructure.
The council also voted to select Traylor and Associates as a grant writer to assist the city in applying for grants for downtown revitalization and main street programs, a fire truck, a tornado siren, and repairs of storm creeks on Houston Street.
The final agenda item was the consideration and appointment of a regular board member and an ex-officio member to the Crockett Economic & Industrial Development Corporation. Executive Director James Gentry stated that although Bill Jones and Chris Ramirez were being considered, the CEIDC board had not yet finalized their recommendation for the unoccupied board position. Mayor Fisher expressed concern over the delay and suggested that Keshia Thomas be nominated as an ex-officio member, but the proposal failed due to a lack of a motion.