All hourly Early city employees will be seeing a pay bump with the new budget year after Tuesday’s meeting, and council members also held a hearing on the proposed tax rate and approved a resolution seeking financial assistance with the city’s upcoming water pipeline project.

Along with a planned 4 percent pay raise in next year’s budget, the council agreed Tuesday night to supplement that with a $100 per month, per employee, raise.

That action will total $21,600 for the year when all 18 eligible employees are factored. The money for the increase will come from existing department budgets though, Early City Administrator Ken Thomas told council members.

Early Police Chief David Mercer had originally requested $300 per month for his department, but after meeting with Thomas said the staff-wide raise was agreeable.

The council held its first public hearing on the proposed tax rates for the upcoming budget year. According to Thomas, property values in Early have grown from $143,437,317 to $149,794,746 since last year. The proposed rollback rate of $.5097 per $100 valuation is broken down in three areas: sewer bond (which has a $199,000 payment due), street bond (which has a $179,000 payment due) and maintenance and operations. Based on the values, the rate will generate $763,503. There were no questions or comments about the rate from the two audience members in attendance.

During the hearing, Early Councilman B.J. McCullough asked if there had been any discussion about how the upcoming highway construction project might affect sales tax revenues.

“I don’t know. It will have an effect on it. One of the things we tried to address when it first started was The Parkway off C.C. Woodson and behind Chicken Express,” Thomas said. “We put that street in with anticipation of this work to help give traffic flow a little better opportunity.”

“The Mall, it’s (construction) going to block it,” McCullough said. “And the drop-in stuff like Prima Pasta. I wondered if it will impact our bottom line.”

Early Mayor Bob Mangrum said the full effect wouldn’t be known for some time, and he is hopeful that the project won’t take a full year.

“I don’t think it’s really going to take the full year. They’ve got it plotted out. Maybe it won’t impact that much. We will obviously be watching. We really don’t get it (sales tax revenues) in until after January. Most of our expenses are in the spring. Hopefully we’ll have a handle on it by then.”

The council also unanimously approved a resolution seeking a $6 million loan from the Texas Water Development Board.

“This basically is what First Southwest Financial has put together. We’re structuring this to do it primarily with water rates,” Thomas said. He said the way the agreement would be structured would allow the payments to be raised through water rates, tax rates or a combination of both.

“There’s no doubt this is the best option for borrowing money from the city’s perspective,” Mangrum said.