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DEPORT — Deport City Council worked through its first 2020 budget workshop Thursday evening, proposing a new city truck budget expense of over $9,000 from the city’s general spending budget.

The council discussed the increase after noting how old its golf cart is, and Public Works Director Danny Turner mentioned the golf cart’s lack of tire durability and battery life. The council agreed to propose an increase in the budget item to purchase a utility truck.

Councilman Craig Folse said the council had not yet discussed what kind of model they would purchase, but that it would be a functional and cost-effective option — “Not a Razor truck,” he said with a chuckle.

The general spending budget included everything from city secretary salaries to gravel and printer supplies. The council set a spending goal of 60% of its funds with 40% remaining at the end of the year. Numbers were based off 2018, and council projected its costs for August and September 2019 on the numbers from the same time last year.

Items of extended discussion included city sales tax and miscellaneous revenue. The council proposed setting a budget of $30,000 for 1% sales tax, the same rate as 2018. But discussion primarily revolved around the city’s alcohol sales tax. Secretary Wendy May said she had previously wondered if local businesses were actually “ringing up beer” due to the higher tax — 6.25% according to state policy. Councilwoman Rebecca Crawford said she emailed the state comptroller about the accuracy of Deport’s alcohol sales tax numbers, but said she had not heard back.

Several board members also mentioned they knew a store in Deport was selling alcohol to minors. Crawford said she included that in her report as well.

“I reported that, too. Didn’t do any good,” Crawford said, adding the city had limited jurisdiction and enforcement was up to the comptroller and law enforcement.

The miscellaneous revenue budget item included allowances for items such as fishing permit sales, returned check fees and scrap items, such as old vehicles. After redistributing part of the costs to other budget areas — such as the return check fee — the final amount proposed for miscellaneous revenue was $500.

Other proposed changes included a budget increase of $7,500 for PILOT housing authorities, an increase from $3,000 in 2018; a decrease from $15,000 to $12,000 for the street light budget; and raising trash collection budget from $40,000 to 45,000, which will be considered again at the August budget meeting.

Items such as the FICA City Share, 6.2% rate, and Medicare City Share, 1.45% rate, will be addressed at the next budget meeting to allow May to complete additional research, the council decided.

Mayor John Mark Francis said items to watch for at the next budget session will be sanitation, sewer and water expenses and revenue.

“Tonight was a very productive session with a great city council. We’re looking forward to big things in Deport,” Francis said.

Macon Atkinson is a staff writer for The Paris News. She can be reached at 903-785-6963 or macon.atkinson@theparisnews.com.

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