At the Sept. 17 meeting, Jourdanton City Council members approved the adoption of the budget for the coming fiscal year.
Comprising the council are Mayor Robert “Doc” Williams, Mayor Pro tem Raul Morales, Johnetta “Johnnie” Goetzel, Karen Pesek, Jack R. Harrison and Chester Gonzales. Goetzel was not in attendance, as she was home recuperating from a hospital stay.
Among the items found in the fiscal year 2018-19 budget:
The budget contains funding for a 30 percent increase in health insurance rates.
The budget continues to reflect $250,000 for street repairs.
There is $35,000 to purchase and outfit one police vehicle (lights, siren, radio and other necessary equipment).
Items reduced or not found in the fiscal year 2018-19 budget:
There is not an across the board pay increase figured into the budget.
Certification pay has not been added to the budget. (This would impact Police Officers and Public Works employees who hold certifications).
Reduced one position at city hall.
Engineering fees have been reduced below the fiscal year 2017-18 totals. The reduction estimated to be somewhere between $33,053 and $67,267 (This depends on how much is billed in August and September of 2018).
Regular legal fees have been reduced by $20,000.
In the budget packet, Jourdanton City Manager Lamar Schulz stated, “In the short period of time I have been here, I have been reviewing the city’s financial records and current financial condition. Prices on the items the city uses continue to increase. Medical insurance rates that were proposed to the city increased by 53.59 percent. Needless to say, the city is looking for quotes from other insurance providers.”
Schulz said there are ambitious projects in the works.
“Major repairs to the city’s infrastructure are needed. Items such as a new elevated storage tank, a new well and adding an ionization process to the water system to make the city’s water safer. Replacing water meters, as new meters read better and the city receives more revenue. In addition, there are roads that need to be patched and repaired. Some need to be ripped out and a new road built. There are water and sewer lines that need to be repaired or replaced. Engineering fees and legal fees are seriously impacting the budget.
“In fiscal year 2018-19, legal fees for the Sports Complex can no longer be funded by the HOT Fund. The HOT Fund can continue to support the Sports Complex itself.”
Schulz stated that the city needs more revenue in order to operate at the current level.
“Even with the proposed tax increase, an additional $361,758 will need to come from the fund balance. Without the increase in revenue and transfer of funds from the fund balance, the city would be required to scale back services and projects.”
Before council voted on the budget, a public hearing was held to receive comments from the public.
The first to speak was Patricia J. Elizabeth Tymrak-Daughtrey, who said she was so happy to be working with City Manager Schulz. She said she would be looking at the budgets he did in Carrizo Springs and Bandera. She described the fire department as her family’s legacy.
“I am sick and tired of this council, not particularly all of you who are newer, that has treated the Jourdanton Volunteer Fire Department so shabbily for years. Give $3,000 to Jack (Harrison) for the Chamber July Fourth party and when Kendall was city manager, refused giving any money to the volunteer fire department,” Tymrak-Daughtrey said.
She added she often posts it on Facebook, and told council, “I’m telling you the people in this town want fire protection more than they want police protection. Our crime rate is very low and I believe that the budget should be cut from the police department and I am especially offended that we would be buying a new $35,000 vehicle. I just think that’s atrocious. This is Jourdanton. We don’t have very far to go. We’ve been through, do we remember Mustangs and all the stuff we had here?”
Tymrak-Daughtrey asked about expenses, such as how much money is generated by that $6,000 dog and does it justify all the food and the vet bills. She also asked about $600 worth of Kona Ice for Meet the Teacher Night and said she would file an open records request.
She wants to see individual salaries listed, so that it is known what people are making. She also said she thought the firemen needed bunker gear.
Tymrak-Daughtrey recalled back when city council voted to put up an amount of money on the water bill, that was supposed to be used only for fire protection.
“When Roy Underwood came here we ended up being nearly bankrupt and nobody ever once took account for the money. Where was that money? I think it got spent.”
The timer then went off and Tymrak-Daughtrey said, “I would like the council to cut the police department and make sure that we are hotseating cops. Even Ronnie Lawson, who I disliked, hot-seated cops when he was Chief of Police, and not send cars home with anybody, as if they were their private vehicles and to put more money into the fire department, because as I put on Facebook, the people would rather have the firefighters show up and put out the fire than a cop show up and direct traffic.”
Mayor Williams pounded the gavel, informing Tymrak-Daughtrey her time was up.
Next to speak was Tommy Tymrak, president of the Jourdanton Volunteer Fire Department.
“I would like to beg the council to give possibly a little more time if I run long. I would be considered a department head, not a citizen commenting. I am here representing the Jourdanton Fire Department, all volunteers. We serve 24 hours a day, seven days a week.”
He said he and other members were at the meeting because, “It has come to our attention that the little bit of money that we get from the city, our budget has been cut almost by half. It went down over $19,000 and our budget is now sitting at around $28,000. Projected was around $47,000. Why? Why are we treating these people this way? They come to help you, no matter what. They leave their families. They are exposed… just now we went to the nursing home. We’re exposed to no telling what over there, we’re not medically trained. Some of us are getting some medical certifications, but we’re taking all that back to our families- wives, kids, grandkids.
“We have to come and beg whenever we want something from here, any little bit I can get. We started this year with 13 active members. We’re now up to 22 membersall volunteers. Nobody gets paid. We are required to achieve at least 28 hours of training each year, on our own nickel. We operate very expensive, very delicate equipment. We have to have training and certification. We save lives and fight fires and we do a whole bunch of other stuff, traffic control, which we shouldn’t be doing. We’re not getting paid. We’ll be out here directing traffic for hours and hours. No matter what is going on with our families- birthday parties, church,” said Tymrak.
He spoke on the increase in staffing and training, the need for safety equipment, as well as aging vehicles. He said the City of Jourdanton owns three of their firefighting vehicles. The volunteer department has a total of eight.
“The remaining five we have purchased. We’ve had help with grants, fundraisers. We have two buildings that we have to maintain and still provide a volunteer service for the City of Jourdanton,” Tymrak said.
“What happens when vehicles get old. Anybody ever had a 12-year-old car? You want to get in it and drive your family on vacation to California. You better go get AAA because you’re probably not going to make it there. We can’t afford break-downs. Everything has to be maintained. Your second line pumper is 26-yearsold. If we have a problem with this one, that’s what we go to. Only two people can ride it. It doesn’t have places for a breathing apparatus. It is essentially just an emergency backup, to carry some water. We can use it, but it is very old. It’s been maintained well, but it is very old. It needs to be replaced.”
Tymrak also discussed the 22-year-old truck used strictly for doing their rescues for people trapped in cars. At that moment the timer went off and Tymrak said, “We are in a situation where we have been good stewards of the city and not just spent money anyway. We’ve been very frugal and tried to do as much as we can on our own. Also, we have safety equipment, we have breathing apparatus that we need to go into a smoke-filled building.”
Mayor Williams informed Tymrak his time was up and he asked for more time. Mayor said he had two more minutes.
Tymrak discussed the breathing apparatus they need to fill and the Jaws of Life needed for rescues.
“I don’t feel comfortable sending my brothers and sisters into a building with no help. And when our projected budget is at $47,000 and you drop it to $28,000, a $19,000 drop, I will be here asking for a 20 percent increase in our budget because we need it. We need the help. This is not just fun and games. This is a high risk job that we are doing for free, 24 hours a day.”
He said while he didn’t want to go there, it hurt even more to look at the police department’s budget of $876,000.
“So, did you take our $19,000 and give it to the police department? We could definitely use some help. Please, before you approve the budget, increase ours at least back up to the projected budget. Thank you for your time,” Tymrak said.
City Manager Schulz said, “We have been through the budget several times over a period of time. Does anybody else have any other questions pertaining to any of the departments? In relation to the fire department, what we were just talking about $11,251 of that decrease was because the fire truck is paid off.”
“That’s not part of the $19,000 decrease,” Tymrak said.
“It is,” Schulz said.
“And that was taken off prior to your projected budgeted of $47,000,” said Tymrak.
City Manager Schulz explained, “Don’t worry about projected. Projected is a guesstimate when we don’t know how much you’re going to spend yet and that was done when I first got here. Today is the 17th, we’ve got until the 30th of this month that is in this year. But we have not, not paid any bills that the fire department has sent us. And in several of the lines we have gone way in excess of what was actually budgeted- so we never denied anything.”
Council member Morales then made the motion to approve the ordinance adopting the budget as read by Mayor Williams. It was seconded by council member Harrison.
Council member Pesek then asked, “What can we do to give more money to them?”
Schulz said it would have to come out of the fund balance.
“And you said a while ago that anything that they need has been paid for?” Pesek asked Schulz.
“Everything they send us a bill on. In fact just to give you an example here, inspections for the equipment he was referring to this year was budgeted at $3,500. To date we’ve paid $6,300. We kept paying. We went over our total. Anything they have brought to us, we have approved,” Schulz said.
Council member Gonzales asked, “During our budget hearings, department heads were able to come to those meetings, is that correct?”
Schulz responded that yes, anyone can come to a public hearing.
“It’s just that we have had multiple public hearings and workshops prior to tonight, and we have to make a decision tonight,” Gonzales said.
“We had $6,000 in inspections year to date and we’re only budgeting $3,500 for next year. What I’m saying is, our budget is not going down. We have more people. We have more training. We have a lot of equipment to maintain,” Tymrak said.
“Who communicates that we’ve gotten more individuals? There is no communication,” Gonzales said.
Tymrak repeated that the city has the actual expenses year to date and only budgeted half that.
The council then voted to adopt the budget, with all affirmative.
Afterwards, council all voted affirmative to adopt the ordinance amending the budget for the 2017-18 fiscal year.
Prior to their vote, Schulz explained the amendments.
“There were some corrections that had to take place on three particular items, two of them just being numerical items, account numbers,” Schulz said.
The one that involved a little more money involved the maintenance on the DPS building where the air-conditioner went out, adding $433 to it.
“Basically what these are all doing is just cleaning up the budget.”
Schulz said he wants them to get to where they are actually using good numbers going forward.
“Because a lot of times, if you go back and look at some documents you’ll see where prior to the year we’ve used more than what was budgeted last year and we’re wanting to slowly get the debt cleaned up to where we’re budgeting an amount that’s going to be realistic in expectations.”