Glenn Heights Council Approves Budget, Tables Freezing Tax Rates for Seniors

Glenn Heights City Council. Photo courtesy City of Glenn Heights

The Glenn Heights City Council meeting on Tuesday evening began with citizen comment when Gary Clark addressed council on taxes for senior citizens. He related that he moved to GH in 1990. He said land value has gone from 10k to 50k since then and home values have dramatically increased as well. Saying that property taxes have become a serious burden for senior citizens he said “I’m asking that … consider freezing the property tax.”

Proclamations were issued for Hispanic History Month, Constitution week, Fire Prevention Week and read by Mayor Harry Garrett.

Consent agenda items 1 and 2 approved by a vote of 6-0 after a motion was made by Mayor Pro Tem Brown and seconded. The consent agenda included approval of the minutes of the last meeting and the calling of a special election on December 13, 2022 for the purpose of electing Council Member Place 1 to fill the unexpired term and authorizing a contract for election services with Dallas and Ellis Counties.

The first regular agenda item was to take action on Ordinance regarding amendment for in home day care at 700 Shady Meadow. A motion to approve was made by Mayor Pro-Tem Sonja Brown and seconded by Allen. This passed with a 7-0 vote.

The following action items concerned the budget and the tax rates for the coming year. City Manager David Hall presented slides on all the tax rates and budget information. “M&O and total tax rates were presented at a rate as low as they have been in last ten years.” He said individual taxes may increase but this is due to homes because their home is worth more, but the proportion of tax the city takes is less when compared to previous years.

Ordinance O-11-22

The first of these, Ordinance O-11-22, was appropriating and setting aside the necessary funds out of the general and other revenues for said Fiscal Year for the maintenance and operation of the various departments and for various activities and improvements of the City. A motion to adopt was made by Sonja Brown and seconded by Travis Bruton. The vote was to approve with only Dr. Alicia Brown voting no.

Discussing Resolution R-23-22, Deputy City Manager Cliff Blackwell told Council the actual tax rate has declined although the total amount of property taxes increases by 658,900. This is due to new and improvement values rather than a physical tax rate increase, he related. A motion to approve the property tax rate was made by Mayor Pro Tem Sonja Brown, the motion was seconded by Travis Bruton. This also passed by a 6-1 vote with only Alicia Brown voting against.

Ordinance O-12-22

Ordinance O-12-22, adopting and levying ad valorem taxes for the year 2022 (Fiscal Year 2022 – 2023) at a rate of $0.632211 per one hundred dollars ($100) assessed valuation on all taxable property within the corporate limits of the City of Glenn Heights as of January 1, 2022, to provide revenue for the payment of current expenses; providing for an interest and sinking fund for all outstanding debt of the City of Glenn Heights; providing for due and delinquent dates together with penalties and interest; approving the estimated 2022 tax roll certified by the Chief Appraisers for Dallas and Ellis Counties2.01 increase in the tax rate was then voted on . Mayor Pro-Tem Brown moved to approve with Machanta Newsom seconding. The vote was 7-0 to approve.

Then item 5, Ordinance O-13-22, amending the Annual Budget for the city was then unanimously approved.

Item 6 on the agenda was to add a grade 19 position of senior financial analyst to the city job classification schedule. Deputy CM Blackwell discussed this saying this would make financial aspects of the city more streamlined. He said the salary level for this position would range from $83,500 to $119,051, the equivalent of a police lieutenant. This would be in place of a Finance Director position and would not make an impact on the budget. Mayor Pro-Tem Brown moved to approve and Council person Bruton seconded. This motion passed unanimously.

Item number 7 on the agenda regarded the Senior Center programming and he introduction of Teen Center services, for those between 12 and 17 years of age. Because the senior center, even with the inclusion of a senior pick up transportation program the center has been underutilized. Because of this, CM Hall said it would be more useful to put a hold on the senior program and make the facility available a teen center. He said the building would still be used for seniors on Fridays but it would be more targeted toward teens the rest of the week. He suggested the switch to begin on Monday, October 3. There was considerable discussion by council on the subject but no vote was taken.

Council person Emma Ipaye discussed implementation of a sister city program as a way of fostering friendship between cities and helping international peace. She proposed becoming a sister city of a town she grew up in, Bakana, in Nigeria, Africa. She told council and citizens she would take questions and suggested tabling the item until the next meeting.

The next item concerning freezing taxes for senior citizens and providing a $25,000 exemption for veterans. This was presented by Shaunte Allen. She said seniors are struggling and they should not have to choose between food and paying taxes. The city currently gives a $25,000 exemption for seniors, and because of property values increasing, the exemption is becoming less and less impactful for them. Therefore, freezing the taxes would help them more. City taxes for residents of Ellis County are currently frozen but taxes for those in Dallas County are not.

City Manager Hall said much more information was needed for council to make a decision. He said there would be an impact, and an analysis would need to be done. “I would ask that this discussion be couched, not to discuss the worthiness of it, but the timeliness of it.” He said the staff needed the time to do such an analysis so a more informed decision could be made.

Councilperson Ipaye agreed with Mr. Hall that the decision should be postponed.

Councilman Bruton asked when the analysis could be done. “I do like the idea of helping our seniors as much as possible,” he said. CM Hall said he would work an analysis into the next year’s budget discussions which would begin next March. He said a full impact would be presented for a future budget, but time was needed for a study and analysis to be made. “This will be a large topic for us … and we will have conversations with you (in the upcoming budget planning).”

Councilman Allen moved and Councilman Bruton seconded that this item be tabled. This motion was approved by a unanimous vote.

The meeting was then adjourned.