By Joe Reavis
Princeton City Council agreed to a proposed 2015 property tax rate, tried to assist a homeowner with a hazardous drainage ditch and joined in an awarded presented to one of their own at a special meeting held Aug. 3.
The council session was conducted immediately following a 3-hour budget workshop.
On a motion by Councilman John-Mark Caldwell, Place 3, seconded by Mayor pro tem Steve Deffibaugh, the council voted unanimously to proposed a property tax rate of 69.1866 cents per $100 assessed valuation.
The rate is less than the 2014 levy of 72.18 cents and equal to the rollback rate. The rate will raise $355,866 more than was generated by property taxes last year, of which $192,616 is assigned to new property added to tax rolls.
Property taxes of about $2.3 million go to the general fund portion of the city budget, proposed at $4.24 million this year.
Receiving the Smokey Bear award from Texas A&M Forest Service was Deffibaugh. The sponsored nationwide by the U.S. Forest Service is the highest given at the state level and recognizes efforts made to prevent wildland fires.
Making the presentation was Nick Harrison of the Texas A&M Forest Service.
A plea was made by Janelle Mason, a resident of Princeton Timbers subdivision, for the city to clear a drainage ditch behind her house that has become overgrown, holds standing water and is eroding its banks.
Mason was told that there is little the city can do because of a state law prohibiting work by city employees on private property. The ditch is an easement behind Mason’s back fence but that is part of her property.
“Our hands are tied. We can’t do anything,” Mayor Ken Bowers said.
The condition of the ditch is considered a health nuisance and the 12 property owners whose property is traverses could be issued citations ordering them to clean the nuisance. The mayor said that an inspector would visit with all the property owners, notifying them of their obligation in hopes that they will band together to fix the situation.
Bowers also determined that a homeowners association was planned for the subdivision but never was formed, and that upkeep of the area would have been the responsibility of the HOA.
City Manager Derek Borg gave a brief report that street pothole repairs are continuing, work has started to install a turn lane on Monte Carlo, planning is progressing on an apartment complex next to the new Walmart and that he has not received a favorable rate from companies providing street cleaning services.