LAKE DALLAS — City Council members unanimously approved a balanced $6.6 million budget Thursday night during a meeting, and the city manager also publicly announced his plans to retire later this year.
With the budget’s approval, the council also ended a three-year delay to award 3 percent raises for all city employees. The council also unanimously approved maintaining the current city tax rate at 71 cents per $100 valuation. Mayor Tony Marino said the budget process was not easy, but he said he is happy with the outcome.
“We were able to put some money back into the fund balance and give raises to everyone,” he said. “Three percent isn’t a whole lot, but it’s a sign of appreciation and that we care about them.”
Lake Dallas experienced a decrease in property taxes this year, but an increase in sales tax revenue helped the city to nearly break even.
“And we were still able to give raises and do what we feel is necessary to run the city,” Marino said. “We did what was necessary and it paid off. We buckled down and got it done without having to cut services or cut positions.”
City Manager Earl Berner said city staff did a good job trimming their budgets and requesting only necessary funds to run their respective departments.
Both the mayor and the city manager said the city also saved money by restructuring debt payments and renegotiating the cost for fire services from the city of Corinth. Negotiations with Corinth saved the city about $300,000 over five years, Marino said.
“It was a combination of so many things that we did that helped us save money and even put some back into the general fund,” Marino said. “A lot of cities are still struggling because of the economy, but we made it through another year.”
Officials said residents can expect to see new infrastructure improvements this fiscal year, which includes a joint road construction project between Lake Dallas and Denton County.
“We have a good relationship with the county, and they allocated some funds to help us pave some roads,” Marino said. “[Precinct 3 Commissioner] Bobbie Mitchell really helped us out with trying to secure some funding.”
During the meeting, Berner also publicly announced he will step down Dec. 7. Next month will be Berner’s eighth year with Lake Dallas.
Until the council appoints a new manager after Berner’s retirement, Police Chief Nick Ristagno and City Secretary Joni Vaughn will take up some of the city manager’s duties like preparing the budget and meeting with staff.
JOHN D. HARDEN can be reached at 940-566-6882. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org .