By Cristin Ross

Rusk City Council members have reviewed, refined and reworked the proposed 2008-09 budget and are ready to make it official.

Council members will take action on adopting a budget and a property tax rate of $0.485 per $100 valuation during a special meeting set for 5 p.m. Tuesday at Rusk City Hall.

City Manager Mike Murray said the total proposed budget is $4,352,663 — up about $300,000 over last year’s budget.

“We’ve been through it twice, with a machete,” Murray said during the regular monthly meeting held Sept. 16. “But it’s balanced and workable.”

City Council will also hold a budget workshop and a public hearing during Tuesday’s meeting. Anyone with questions regarding the proposed budget is welcome to attend the workshop and take part in the hearing.

The council discussed keeping the property tax rate the same as last year’s during a special meeting held Aug. 28. Councilman Don Jones asked if the city could lower its property tax rate since valuations had gone up over the year.

“If it can be done, I’d like to see it come down,” Jones said at the August meeting.

Murray suggested moving the rate from 48.96 cents to 48.5 cents per $100 valuation. Murray calculated the decrease would cost the city $10,000 in tax revenue.

“It’s a nice gesture,” Murray said in August.

Council members have until Sept. 30 to adopt a budget and a tax rate for the upcoming fiscal year.

Also on Tuesday, council members will take action on an ordinance setting new water and sewer rates for residential customers.

Council members discussed raising rates during the Aug. 28 special meeting. Tentative water and sewer rate increases are 75 cents per base price for both services and 5 cents more per 1,000 gallons used — an increase of about $1.80 a month per average water customer.

Murray told the council the proposed water and sewer rate increases were needed to help pay for the city’s new water well.

“That’s really the reason the budget increased as much as it did,” Murray said in an earlier interview.

Rusk City Council meets at 5 p.m. every first Thursday of the month, unless otherwise posted, in the council chambers at Rusk City Hall, 219 S. Main St., Rusk. The public is welcome.

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