Council OKs budget, passes out hotel-motel funds

Posted Monday, Sep. 09, 2013  comments  Print Reprints
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The Mansfield City Council gave its initial approval Monday to a general operating budget of $41.9 million for the next year — a 9 percent increase that would help buy public safety vehicles, hire additional dispatchers and street workers and provide a 3 percent merit raise for the city staff.

The council also voted to keep the property tax rate at its current level of 71 cents per $100, which is lower than it was 20 years ago. Officials credited rebounding sales tax and city fee revenues for the bigger budget with no tax rate.

The council was poised to take final action on the budget through two more votes Tuesday and Wednesday. The 2013-14 spending plan was virtually unchanged from the preliminary version that City Manager Clayton Chandler submitted to the council last month.

The budget includes funding for seven new police vehicles, an ambulance, a fire truck and three vehicles for the public works department. The city also could create five new police dispatcher positions and three more street maintenance jobs.

The part of the budget that has drawn the most attention is the allocation of $509,000 in hotel-motel tax revenues. The council on Monday approved allocating funds to 11 local civic organizations and two city departments to help fund their sporting events, festivals and other activities in the next fiscal year.

It’s a recurring issue in Mansfield. This time, the council required more detailed financial accounting and documentation of tourist dollars drawn by the events for which funding was sought.

As fast as hotel-motel tax revenues have grown over the years, requests for shares of the funding have outpaced it. A council subcommittee had to whittle down applications totaling $704,000, and it recommended $79,000 of the $509,000 total tax fund be placed in reserve for the city's future tourism-building projects.

The council voted unanimously for the subcommittee's funding recommendations.`

The city tourism department received the largest allocation, $203,600, which is about $43,000 less than it requested.

The Mansfield Historical Society, which received $55,000 for its museum operation this year, was granted only $30,000 for the new fiscal year. But Mayor David Cook said the curator's salary and office expenses would be reassigned to city general fund budget, leaving more money for tourism-related activities.

Other allocations went to:

•  Discover Historic Mansfield, $48,000 for its festivals.

•  The city's Rockin' Fourth of July, $34,500 for its fireworks show and family activities.

•  Kiwanis Club, $3,500 for its tennis tournament.

•  Mansfield Rotary Club, $25,000 for its girls basketball tourney.

•  Futures of Mansfield Tennis, $18,000 for its tournament.

•  Mansfield Community Theater, $5,000 for its productions.

•  Sunrise Rotary Club, $15,000 for its volleyball tourney.

•  Pickled Mansfield Society, $34,500 for its St. Paddy's Pickle Parade.

•  Farr Best Theater, $8,000 for its winter and spring performances.

•  Mansfield Juneteeth Celebration, $2,000 for its event.

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