By Cyndy Slovak-Barton
There was nary a comment on the proposed tax rate for the city of Buda.
But alcohol and water brought out the few comments from council members at the one-hour special called meeting.
The proposed tax rate of $.3475 per $100 valuation hearing moved quickly, and the council will take up the rate for a vote Sept. 15. The second public hearing on the tax rate is slated for Sept. 1.
Alcohol voted down for library events
The move by Buda librarian Melinda Hodges to make changes in the library’s meeting room use, mainly asking that the Friends of the Library could serve alcohol in the facilities for a wine-tasting fundraiser, brought out a naysay from the council. The motion was voted down 4-2, with council members Eileen Altmiller and Jose Montoya voting in favor. Mayor Todd Ruge was absent.
The policy change came from the Friends; the group had been searching for an economical place to hold a fundraiser for the Buda City Library. Other changes to the policy would allow religious organizations to use the meeting room for services. The new policy would set up guidelines for fundraising events, require TABC certification for serving of alcohol and require a $1 million liability insurance policy.
Hodges said the language was taken from the Parks department events package.
But it was a no-go.
Wiley Hopkins said he felt uncomfortable allowing liquor to be served in public facilities; George Hahn said he would have a problem with the policy; Angela Kennedy said she was interested in reviewing such a change, but only after new joint city facilities, including library and city hall, were built.
The voice of support came from Eileen Altmiller, a former librarian, who said it was common to have receptions in libraries with alcohol being served. Jose Montoya voiced his support by seconding the motion for approval. But the other council members voted the policy down.
It was brought back to the floor for consideration – excluding the serving of alcohol – and the policy was changed to allow use of the library meeting room by other groups, including religious organizations use of facility for services.
Here’s where the HOT goes
Hotel Occupancy Tax funds to four groups – Wiener Dog Races ($12,000), Firefest ($3,000), Fajita Fiesta ($3,500) and Motorcycle Chute Out ($3,000 plus $3,500 for sponsorship of the dinner for police officers), were approved and the talk turned to water.
Staff recommends water rate increase
City staff was looking for direction on how much to raise water and wastewater rates. Staff member Grady Reed recommended a 15% across the board increase.
“Really, regardless of what you see in the future, you will see additional costs for water,” he said, pointing out that water costs – whether from Hays Caldwell Public Utility Agency or from other potential sources – will increase over the years.
He recommended rates be increased, saying that future rates can always be adjusted, depending on cost of water down the road.
Council member Kennedy said she would prefer that the lowest tier of water usage, used for bare sustenance, not be raised, while the second tier of residential water users who were watering lawns sees the larger increase.
“I would be very interested in that (kind of rate structure),” she said. “I don’t want people who are using very little water subsidizing those using more for lawn use.”
The staff has recommended for water and wastewater usage a proposed rate for 5,000 gallons an increase to $74 from $70. That rate compares to Kyle at $92 for 5,000 gallons of water and wastewater for residential usage.
The council asked staff come back to its Sept. 1 meeting with a recommendation on how to make the tier system work.
Staff had wanted a recommendation on how the council was thinking, saying they needed to know how to build the budget.
In the end, the council said that the staff knows what revenue is needed and recommended staff come back with proposals.