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City commission proposes lower tax rate

The Vernon City Commission held a special meeting on Tuesday, Aug. 11 and proposed a property tax rate for 2020.

City Manager Marty Mangum, in a memo to the commission, said that the budget anticipates a tax rate of $0.52422 per $100 in valuation, down from the current $0.56471. The commission approved Mangum’s recommendation on a unanimous vote off of a motion from commissioner Don Aydelott.

The new rate went down due to lower debt service requirements this coming year. Last year’s debt payment of $633,250 required $.15229 in taxes. This year the debt portion is $495,625, requiring $.11604 in tax. Mangum said that to keep the tax rate swinging to far down, and then needing to be raised, he was proposing a 3.5 percent increase, the legal limit without an election, in the portion of the tax that funds maintenance and operations — from $0.41242 to $0.41818 per $100.

Commissioners also  scheduled a public hearing on the proposed 2020 property budget for Aug. 25 and to approve the budget and proposed tax rate on Sept. 15.

The municipal general election that was scheduled for May was postponed due to COVID-19. In the special meeting, commissioners ordered the a general election for the positions of mayor and commissioners for precincts 1 and 2 be held on Nov. 3, on a motion from commissioner Justin Marsh. Norris Thomas and Jim Parmer have filed to run for the precinct 2 seat in the election.

Commissioners unanimously approved the purchase of four rotary aerators for the Wastewater Treatment Plant. Vernon Public Works Director Darell Kennon said that the equipment was needed because the main shaft broke on one of the wastewater plant’s existing rotors. The other rotors were the same age as the one that broke, so metal fatigue was a concern for all of them.

Kennon said that if one more were to break, then the plant would not  be able to maintain its dissolved oxygen levels and could then be in permit violation. The lead time on a rotor is 16 weeks, so he advised replacing all now. The cost was estimated at $594,000.

The commission also approved closing Fannin Street from Wichita to Paradise on Aug. 22 from 1 to 6 p.m. for the Relay for Life event.

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