City Council approves decreasing property taxes and updating cemetery
Burleson City Council approved decreasing Burleson’s property tax rate and updates to the Burleson Memorial Cemetery Monday at City Hall
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BURLESON – Burleson City Council approved decreasing Burleson’s property tax rate and updates to the Burleson Memorial Cemetery Monday at City Hall.
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Council approved Burleson finance director Martin Avila’s recommendation to decrease the property tax rate to $.6235 in fiscal-year 2023-24 from $.6572.
Although the overall tax rate is decreasing, Council approved Avila’s recommendation to increase the Maintenance and Operations No New Revenue Rate 3.5%, which is allowed without voter approval due to Senate Bill 2.
Council also approved updates to the Burleson Memorial Cemetery, which was part of councilmember Larry Scott’s concerns as he requested all parks and recreation projects to be held up for a year.
Scott requested all parks and recreation projects be held up for a year due to complaints about areas under the department’s responsibility he investigated for four weeks.
“During my investigation, several major issues were identified that directly impact operational cost and citizens’ quality of life,” Scott said.
Scott pointed to the cemetery’s expansion-area fees being delayed among “several” other issues at the cemetery. Other areas with complaints Scott pointed to were Bailey Lake, Shannon Creek Park, the Burleson Recreation Center (BRiCk) and Veterans’ Memorial Park.
“There is a major cost to correcting each of these issues, not just the financial costs, but the cost of faith and trust from the citizens of Burleson,” Scott said. “Some of the scars left behind may never heal.”
During the year moratorium Scott suggested, the city would develop parks and recreation-project maintenance plans to ensure sustainability and minimize capital loss, Scott said. After a year, the city manager would review plans for sustainability and accountability and make necessary adjustments.
“Hard decisions often arise when expert advice and data demonstrate the necessity for change,” Scott said. “Relying on evidence-based practices can lead to decisions that might not align with popular opinion but are more likely to produce positive outcomes in the long run.”
City manager Tommy Ludwig acknowledged there were missed opportunities with the cemetery.
“I think as we add additional assets into the system, it’s imperative that we consider what those operational costs are and to the extent that whether or not we can continue to maintain them based on current staffing levels,” Ludwig said.
Ludwig’s response answered many of Scott’s questions, Scott said.
Other parks and recreation projects from the five-year capital improvement plan could be pulled forward to offset the difference in the 2024 and 2025 funding, Scott said.
Scott was also concerned about the parks and recreation issues not being brought up to city council by parks and recreation and city leadership until “concerned and distressed” Burleson citizens contacted council. Burleson resident Bill Janusch complained about the cemetery Monday and at the city council meeting July 24.
Janusch pointed to 14 dead trees, 139 dead “larger bushes” and 458 dead “smaller bushes,” among other complaints.
“It’s pretty pathetic the way it looks right now, and I was hoping it would’ve been going a little bit better now,” Janusch said Monday. He added that he wants to see accountability and transparency in the resolution to these issues.
Council approved Burleson parks and recreation director Jen Basham’s recommendations to solve irrigation problems at the cemetery, which were among Janusch’s complaints.
Council also approved changing Burleson’s rules and regulations of cemeteries to include enhanced monument-installation specifications, requiring Burleson’s or its cemetery operators’ approval on all monument-installation companies and adding memorial-foundation specifications to strengthen foundations and include 18-inch piers to prevent leaning monuments.
Council also approved the cemetery board’s proposed fees for the cemetery expansion.
The cemetery board’s proposed fees include a $2,000 upright monument fee, a $1,700 flat monument fee and a $400 baby-space fee. The original cemetery area fees are a $1,450 monument fee and a $245 baby-space fee.
Council also approved proposed revisions to Burleson’s cemetery-operations contract with Lucas and Blessing, including disallowing Lucas and Blessing to increase space fees up to 10% annually, requiring council-approval on all fee increases and adding the newly approved fees.