As the Brownwood City Council stepped through a series of votes Tuesday required to adopt a budget and tax rates, and to set municipal rates and fees for the next fiscal year, City Manager Bobby Rountree said the process that morning could be misleading.

“Don’t be misled by the lack of discussion,” Rountree said to a small group of spectators. “A tremendous amount of discussion on these topics took place over the summer. This comes as the final action. The lack of discussion now does not mean there hasn’t been a considerable amount of discussion on these items previously.”

The council’s actions approved an ordinance on first reading adopting the fiscal year 2009-2010 budget that totals $30,372,282. That’s a decrease of .45 percent from the prior year. Because a change in valuation of property in the city limits will bring in more tax revenue even at the same rate, the council also adopted an “effective tax rate” that is 2.55 percent more than last year.

The only change in rates and fees involved the retail price of water, which is a pass-through of a wholesale increase from the Brown County Water Improvement District No. 1. Rountree said the consumption fee will be an increase of about 50 cents a month for residential customers.

The council held a public hearing on the budget on Aug. 11, and public hearings on the proposed tax rate Aug. 25 and Sept. 8.

James Fuller, president of the Brownwood Municipal Police Association, expressed appreciation for the council’s work on the budget, saying he witnessed a sense of teamwork and cooperation during the discussions as they pertained to the police department.

“On behalf of the association, I sincerely thank you for your efforts in the budget process and in honoring the meet and confer commitments,” Fuller told the council. “I saw a desire to assist and improve the police department, and we appreciate the staff for their efforts in this budget process.”

Later in the meeting, during a vote to approve changes in the meet and confer agreement with the Brownwood Professional Firefighters Association, council member Dave Fair said the process has created a stable employment environment where a waiting list for new hires has developed.

“Meet and confer is doing what it is intended to do,” Fair said.

Mayor Pro-tem Darrell Haynes, who presided in Mayor Bert Massey’s absence, said he served on that council committee and that he was impressed by the “reasonable requests” association members brought forward.

“They listened and I hope we listened too,” Haynes said. “I see this from a different perspective now.”

The changes in the agreement include a provision that extends the duration of the eligibility list from six to 12 months to reduce testing expenses.

The council also approval solid waste disposal contracts between the City of Brownwood and the City of Early, City of San Saba, IESI and Duncan Disposal.