The Llano City Council held a special meeting Monday night to consider a $500 grant from Hotel Occupancy Tax funds for advertising Llano’s “Trail of the Deer” exhibit, which has placed five beautifully painted life-size deer at different locations around town. An increase in overnight stays in Llano during the second quarter has given the fund a little extra money, and the council members voted unanimously to approve the grant.
At the same time, the council held a budget workshop, where heads of each city department were present to answer questions about their department’s budget needs. “We’re still in the process,” said Mayor Mike Reagor. “We’re still looking for ways to best spend the citizens’ money.”
A bare-bones budget based on a two-cent ad valorem tax increase, a two percent raise for city employees and a quarter-cent decrease in kilowatt cost of electricity is projected to leave $134,000 for special projects, a maintenance reserve fund, and capital expenditures, but council is still considering a smaller tax increase and a larger reduction in electric bills (for commercial businesses). Conservative income projections from sewer bills and the airport will be re-examined for possible additional funds. The tax rate will not be officially set until after two public hearings, planned for August 16 and September 7.
The largest increase was in the budget of the police department, but Mayor Reagor explained that the council had made a conscious decision to invest in an extra patrol officer and better equipment. “The public is well-served” by the “extra contacts” the police department can make, he told those present at the meeting. “We live in a dangerous world, but we’ve been pretty safe here. We want to be sure we keep it that way.”
Most departments will operate on the same basic budget as last year (although health insurance premiums went up 7.6 percent for all employees), but the workshop provided a sort of “state of the city” review, with each department head explaining his situation. The golf course and the airport are running deficits (Golf Course Manager Terry Mikulenka told the council that last winter “Even the Canadians were complaining about the weather,” and revenues had been “in the tank,” but that the golf course is in better condition, and he has been getting compliments from happy customers in recent months.)
In addition to the public hearings on the tax rate, the city will hold a special meeting at the Lantex Theater at 6 p.m. this Thursday to “acquaint property owners with the proposed Historic District Ordinance designation, and to gather input regarding concerns or changes.”