City Council proposes tax rate
By Warren Slaughter
Special to the Texan
The Dalhart City Council voted to propose a tax rate for fiscal year 2010 of $0.3333 per $100 valuation at Tuesday’s regular meeting. It should be stressed that the city council did not approve this rate; it is proposing this as the 2010 tax rate. The actual tax rate will be set after hearings have been held to get information from the public about the tax rate. The proposed rate is the same as last year’s rate, but will increase revenue to the city due to an increase in property valuations. Because of the higher property valuations, this is considered a tax increase, even though the rate has not changed. By state law, approving the tax rate has to be done as a record vote by the council. Voting yes on the proposed tax rate were Chris Bell, Zelda Lang, Mark Brown, David Bierbaum, Kerry Miller and Fidel Olivarez. No member of the council present at the meeting voted against the proposed tax rate.
The meeting began with Mayor Kevin Caddell presenting city employee Gilbert Ramirez with a 10-year service pin. The council then approved the minutes of the previous meeting, bills and financial reports for July.
Fidel Olivarez was sworn in as Councilman for Ward 3. He fills the unexpired term of Jim Chandler.
Council members tabled the second reading of Ordinance 2009-22, which would change the zoning of lots in the Denrock-Yucca area from R-1 Residential to Special Use for the construction of patio or garden homes on these lots. David and Patsi Lowe own the property and are requesting the zoning change. Because the change is opposed by 50 percent of the people who live in the area, seven council members must vote in favor of the zoning change. The council voted to table the second reading because there were only six council members present. The second reading will be held at the next council meeting on August 25.
Patsi Lowe addressed the council and the public on two areas of concern: increased traffic and putting a large home on a small lot.
Mrs. Lowe said that the people who have expressed interest in the patio homes have been “empty nesters” – older people whose children have grown and moved away. She also said this age group does not drive as much as other age groups, and this will minimize the impact of increased traffic in the area.
She also addressed the concern about big houses on small lots. The minimum size home that can be placed on the proposed lots is 2,000 square feet. The size of the lots is over 7,000 square feet. Mrs. Lowe pointed out that this is larger than most lots in a patio home development.
Roy Gross requested to address the council concerning his attempts to get some property he owns on the north side rezoned to Special Use for the purpose of placing a manufactured home. Mr. Gross said he would like to see the process streamlined. He feels that two months is much too long to wait to get the zoning change for the manufactured home.
City Attorney Greg Oelke said that the timeline is due to the city council meeting twice a month and to requirements imposed by state law. He said he didn’t know of a quicker way to do it, and also pointed out that the timeline is not unique to placing manufactured homes; the timeline applies to any zoning change request.
Council members held a second budget workshop and then held a public hearing on the 2010 city budget. No one from the public made any comments on the budget and the hearing was closed.
The council voted to install signage that will forbid the use of handheld wireless devices (cell phones) in school zones. This is in accordance with state law. A cell phone can be used in a school zone only if it is a hands-free type. More research is being done as to the hours when this law is in effect.