EARLY — City Administrator Tony Aaron described Tuesday — the first day of the 2019-’20 fiscal year — as the “starting line” for projects planned for the new year.
The city is starting off the year in good shape, with a “good budget” that projects revenue of $7.1 million, a 2 percent increase over last year, and expenditures of $6.65 million, a 3.8 increase over last year, Aaron said.
Most of the increase in expenditures is from adding $100,000 into salaries for additional paid fire coverage and converting a part-time patrol officer into a full-time position, Aaron said. The fire department now has 24-hour-a-day staffing.
The tax rate of 54.10 cents per $100 valuation is unchanged from last year. There are no increases in utility rates except for bulk water consumption, which affects construction companies that buy city water, Aaron said.
Projects planned for the year include:
• Improvements to the utility drive-through window at City Hall
• Addition of a welcome monument at the Early Visitors and Event Center
• $300,000 worth of street and drainage projects
• Park improvements at McDonald and the baseball parks
• Additional replacement of old water meters
• A sewer rehab project in the Crescent Street neighborhood
• Purchase of the city’s first street sweeper to begin street cleanup
• Purchase of a sanitation truck to replace an existing truck
Aaron also said the Early Municipal Development District (EMDD) recently purchased two pieces of property — one at 405 Early Blvd. and one at the corner of Early Boulevard and C.C. Woodson for site development and resale to developers. The EMDD is obtaining loans totaling $840,000 which include the cost of site development.
The city and EMDD have “always been aggressive at pursuing economic development opportunities,” Aaron said. Developers had recently bought property and had to spend a lot of time on tasks including demolition, cleaning up easement issues and moving power, sewer and gas lines, Aaron said.
“It’s hard enough in our market to get developers to look at pieces of property,” Aaron said. “But then when you get them to look at a piece of property and there’s a lot of complications to it, it can slow the process down.
“We’ve identified a couple of pieces of property that we felt were best for the economic development board to purchase those properties, and get them site ready to market to a developer for future growth potential.”