Currently sits at 40 cents per $100 valuation

Christopher Maher, Alice Echo-News Journal

The proposed new tax rate for the City of Alice was presented to the City Council Thursday, and includes a reduction of more than six cents per $100 valuation.

City Finance Director Hector Hinojosa presented the proposed rate of $.331080 to the city council during a special meeting held Thursday night.

That proposed rate is slightly less than the effective rate of $.334471, the rate necessary to collect the same amount of tax revenue as last year.

Last year's rate, which was $.40 per $100 valuation, resulted in a tax levy of $2,743,040 for the city.

City council members could choose a rate higher than the proposed rate, but any rate the city would accept above the effective rate would require a number of public hearings before it could be finalized, city officials said.

The rollback rate, above which the city could be subject to a rollback election, is set at $.364781 per $100 valuation. A meeting has been scheduled for Wednesday to vote on a tax rate for the city.

In action items Thursday, the council approved a new salary equity plan for employees of the public works department.

The plan, which was introduced by council member Leo Escobar, increases the salaries of employees in the Public Works Operations Department, a move Escobar has said is necessary to keep employees from leaving the city to join oil field companies.

The new plan increases the salaries and benefits of more than 40 employees, at an estimated cost of $98,541 per year to the city.

"I feel this is way overdue," Escobar told the council in making his motion to accept the plan. "We have neglected the public works department."

The plan was approved by a 3-0 vote by the council.

The council also approved health, life, dental and vision insurance for city employees with Humana Health, and re-appointed James Villarreal and Pedro Jasso as the representatives for the city.

Under the plan approved by the city council, the city will receive a two percent reduction in costs, resulting in a $20,000 savings to the city.

The new plan also eliminates HMO coverage for city employees, a decision made by the insurance representatives because of the low number of city employees using the plan. Although the HMO plan was eliminated, a new plan was put in its place, which will pay 100 percent of medical costs after a $2,500 deductible is met.

The new plan also includes increases in the amount of coverage for dental charges.