City hall

Live Oak City Hall

LIVE OAK — The Live Oak City Council unanimously agreed to not raise the city’s millage rate.

At its July 9 meeting, the council approved setting the maximum millage rate at 9.1771, the city’s current rate. That rate could be lowered during the budget process but can’t be raised.

The city’s rollback rate is 9.0078, which is the tax rate that would generate the same amount of tax revenue as the previous year’s rate.

City Manager Ron Williams said due to a slight increase in property values, by keeping the millage rate flat the city would increase its revenue by approximately $36,500.

“Not a mountain, but it is a small hill,” Williams said. “Means that we’re throwing that shovel out and heading in the right direction.”

The council unanimously approved that recommendation from Williams and Finance Director Joanne Luther. Council President Bennie Thomas wasn’t present at the meeting.

Last year, the city’s millage rate rose from 8.9132 to 9.1771, which was the rollback rate. It actually dropped slightly from 8.925 in 2016-17 to that 8.9132 rate in 2017-18.

Williams also suggested, and the council approved, setting a special meeting for July 23 at 5:15 p.m. in order to set the dates for the city’s budget hearings in September.

New council leadership chosen

Mark Stewart.jpg

Mark Stewart

Don Allen mug.jpg

Don Allen

Also at last week’s meeting, the council elected a new president and pro-tem for the next year. Thomas, the longest tenured councilor, had served as president the past two-plus years. David Burch was the pro-tem the past year.

Mark Stewart was chosen as the new council president by a 2-1-1 vote with Thomas and Burch also receiving votes.

Don Allen was elected as the new pro-tem by a 3-1 vote with Thomas receiving the other vote.

Public comment resolution passed

A resolution was passed at the meeting that will allow residents the option to choose when they get to speak at the council’s meetings.

Currently, the city’s public comment policy mandates that residents speak at the beginning of the meeting prior to any of the business items are discussed.

Stewart proposed changing that policy at the council’s June meeting to allow residents the option to address certain business items rather than at the start of the meeting, if they choose.

City Attorney Fred Koberlein said under the new resolution residents would still be allotted three minutes to speak and they will now identify when they prefer to speak when they sign-in on the public comment form.

That change was approved by a 3-1 vote with Burch dissenting.

Burch, along with Thomas, voted against proposing the new resolution at the June meeting as well.

He said his issue is not with public comment but a desire to have residents contact councilors prior to the meeting as part of the decision-making process.

“I understand it’s not really changing anything than what we’re doing,” he said. “But as a community, if you want your voice heard, it’s not really at the time of the meeting, your best bet is contacting your councilman by email or phone call. So they can determine how they may possibly vote.

“We don’t come up here and open a computer and say, oh let’s vote on this right now. I don’t do that. I have to talk to engineers, I have to talk to the city manager, I have to talk to the finance people. I think it’s important that that’s the best way to get your voice heard.

“I don’t have any problem with people coming up and voicing their opinion. That’s excellent. We need the community’s input. But if you get us the input prior to the meeting, then it may affect the decision being made.”

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