Magnolia property owners will enjoy a slight reduction in their property tax millage following City Council action on Monday.

The council approved a reduction in the 1-mill property tax that is collected for the firefighters’ pension fund.

CLICK THE VIDEO PLAYER ICON to watch the meeting, which starts at about the 3:10 mark in the video.

City Treasurer Kim Newell said the tax has been collecting more money than is needed to meet the city’s obligations to the fund. She recommended that that 1-mill tax levy be reduced to a half-mill.

The city’s 1-mill tax for the police officers’ pension fund will remain at that rate. Even at 1 mill, the city must still allocate about $60,000 annually from its general revenue fund because the mill isn’t enough to cover obligations, but it’s the maximum millage allowed for that purpose.

Revenue from one of the pension funds can’t be used to meet obligations of the other fund.

The Columbia County Quorum Court sets property millage rates for pensions for the coming year based on the request of the city.

Newell also presented the annual water department audit, prepared by CPA Robert Edstrom. She said the audit indicates that the department’s financial condition, including cash flow, met the expectations of standard accounting principles.

The audit raised concerns that Edstrom has frequently mentioned through the years regarding internal financial controls.

The first is that the water department has an insufficient number of employees to break down certain financial functions.

The second is that there is no one manager to run the day-to-day operations of the water system. The work is distributed between heads of the water treatment facilities, system maintenance, and wastewater treatment.

Councilman Jamie Waller said he wants more time to examine the audit. The council took no action on the approval of the audit.

In other action, Councilman James Jefferson spoke of a recent tour he took of the Texas CLT mill in Magnolia with plant personnel and U.S. Rep. Bruce Westerman.

Jefferson said the mill has hired many local residents. It appears ready to move into a new product line and is poised to be a long-term business.

Texas CLT took over the former Unit Structures facility. It makes cross-laminated timber platforms that are used to support heavy equipment at construction and drilling sites.

The next council meeting will be Monday, November 25.

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