Feb

22

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : February 22, 2017

By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
TOOL–Tool City Council members named a road repairs contractor the same night it approved selling $2,610,000 in bonds of obligation.
After a lengthy closed session. Mayor Donny Daniel announced Police Chief Rickey Feist resigned without giving a reason.
The last several city annual budgets have set aside $300,000 for road materials and repairs. This amount has been used to repair or rebuild perhaps up to one mile of roadway per year. Now, for the average annual amortization rate of $261,000 over ten years, the city will realize 15 to 20 miles of roads repaired this year. That many roads repaired added to those roads already repaired through previous grant projects represents half the roads in the city, Councilman Michael Fladmark pointed out in a Feb. 8 special meeting of the council.
The project is to start on the south end of the city and move north. Work is to commence in March and be completed in September, weather permitting.
Boyd London of Hilltop Securities presented the bank bids for purchase of the bonds of obligation during a Feb. 16 council meeting. He recommended the sale go to Texas Independent Bank of Houston for an annual percentage rate of 2.58 percent. “The firm is accustomed to dealing with small communities and has been buying these bonds for the past 10-12 years. They know and understand small towns,” London said.
The second bidder was The Bank of Texas, offering $2.66 percent and included a penalty for early pay off or refinancing the debt and included a fee. The council followed London’s recommendation.
Had the bonds sold before the election, London predicted the city might have gotten a lower interest rate. He added there were about 40 banks interested in buying the bonds, but since the city couldn’t provide three years of annual audits, most bowed out, as they must defend their taking on the loan in this way. However, overall, he is pleased with the bids.
Four road contractors submitted closed bids. The council went with the lowest bid from 5W Contracting, bidding a price of $1.63 per square foot, subject to the contractor getting bonding and insurance for the job. The Tool road project will be the largest this contractor has done to date, Mayor Donny Daniel said in his telling about the background of the contractor.
However, he said the contractor has performed admirably for other cities such as Sulphur Springs, Ennis and Canton. The company owner has been to Tool and utilities director Frank Martin said he toured him around the roads that were priority to be redone, so he would be familiar with the terrain and the challenges.
Texas Bit Oldcastle was named the alternate bidder with a price of $1.81 per square foot, this was followed by bids of $1.84 and $2.35. The council was expecting bids in the $1.90 range, as recorded in the minutes from the Feb. 8 special meeting. If all works out for the lowest bidder, the council anticipates being able to do more miles of roads than the expected 14.
City Secretary Makenzie Lyons added the city has been granted some FEMA funding under one of the disaster declarations which will also go toward drainage and road repair. This is expected to be received in the next few weeks, she said.
After a lengthy closed session to meet with the city attorney and consider employment matters, council members unanimously made several decisions. They agreed to terminate the employment of investigator Jenny Engle. The investigator along with police officer Garrett Engle were under suspension during the council’s Feb. 3 emergency meeting. Since then, Garrett Engle had resigned, Mayor Daniel informed.
This decision to terminate was followed by an acceptance of the resignation of Police Chief Rickey Feist, effective immediately. His letter of resignation did not signify any reason for his departure, Councilwoman Barbara Whitfill said.
The last decision was a direction to the city attorney to send a notice of noncompliance to the Home Sweet Home RV Park on a zoning issue.
In other business, the council:
• granted a setback variance to Carolyn and Kenneth Nowotny of 1412 Bora Bora for an addition to their home to accommodate additional family members living there. The variance allows the structure to encroach 4.5 feet into the 20-foot setback. Other options were unavailable on the heavily wooded lot that also contained a large drainage area.
• appointed Ashley Payne as court clerk. Payne had been a probationary hire.. “She has done a very good job for the city,” Mayor Daniel noted.

Feb

22

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : February 22, 2017

Monitor Staff Reports
KAUFMAN–The Kaufman County Commissioners’ court passed, 3-2, to adopt a resolution, opposing a Texas Senate bill relating to property tax relief, Feb. 13.
Senate Bill 2 (SB-2) would trigger a rollback tax election for any taxing authority proposing increases greater than 4 percent. Most independent school districts are already at 4 percent. Currently, the rollback trigger is set at 8 percent above the effective tax rate (the rate necessary to generate the same amount of revenue as the year previous).
The number of the bill reflects its importance to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who as presiding officer of the Texas Senate, sets the priority of bills. S.B 1 is the budget bill.
More than 100 other counties in the state are registering their disapproval of the legislation.
Commissioners Jakie Allen (Precinct 4, Mabank and Kemp) and Skeet Phillips (Precinct 2) voted against the resolution, wanting more time to study the proposed legislation.
Destin Senesky, representing Senator Bob Hall, told commissioners the resolution was published by a lobbying group and contained misleading information. It doesn’t limit the proposed tax rate, it only subjects it to the control of voters over a certain increased amount, giving the voters the final say, he said. “Senator Hall supports the bill,” he said.
County Judge Bruce Wood responded that if the senator was for local control, he should fight against unfunded mandates passed down from the state to the counties, which increases the county’s financial burden. Wood pointed out the county budget’s $1,000,000 for indigent defense as mandated by the state and is reimbursed a mere $100,000. Moves like these causes tax burdens on property owners, Wood said.
Senesky maintained that the resolution was a stand against tax-paying property owners.
In other business, commissioners:
• named Lori Poole of Forney its new human resource director. She replaces Lori Floyd who left to join the Texas Association of Counties last summer
• agreed to fund several budgeted expenses including seven vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office. Two pickup trucks for a total of $71,494 are to replace 2008 models and five Dodge Chargers, totaling $135,640. Four of these to be used as prisoner transport and the fifth as a patrol vehicle to test the model’s effectiveness in police work. Sheriff Bryan Beavers said some police departments had reservations about the Charger. Originally, the plan was for the purchase of five Chevy Tahoe vehicles at $43,000 each. The new plan saves the KCSO $8,000, Beavers said.
• approved the county seeking three grant applications. One for $111,000 to reimburse the county’s expense on the Brownlow murder trial, leaving only $4,000 balance. The Terrell man is on Death Row for the murder of one of five victims in 2013. A second grant could fund the purchase of 62 rifle vests for constables and deputies at $1,000 each, or equipment for special forces, including helmets, vests and other necessary equipment up to $50,000. These grants are judged on a scoring system and are very competitive, Pam Corder said. A third grant application would be submitted through the District Attorney’s Office to fund a liaison in child abuse/family violence cases. Funded through the Governors Victim Assistance Funding would pay for a position up to three years, she said.
• rescinded a provision sending all expenditures above $25,000 to Commissioners’ Court for approval. The new amount is $50,000 for the court to review.

Feb

22

Posted by : Monitor Admin | On : February 22, 2017

Monitor Staff Reports
FRANKSTON–The Mabank Lady Panthers basketball team lost a heartbreaker Friday night, falling to the Chapel Hill Lady Bulldogs 68-67 Class 4A Region II area-round playoff at Frankston High School.
It took a big fourth quarter from Chapel Hill (27-9) to overcome the Lady Panthers, including lights out shooting from Mykaela Alfred (29 points, five 3-pointers).
Chapel Hill came out with the lead in the first quarter gaining an edge over Mabank 18-13 in the first quarter. The Lady Panthers fought back in the second and third quarters, outscoring them 13-11 in the second quarter and 25-15 in the third to take a 51-44 lead after the third.
Unfortunately for the Lady Panthers, Chapel Hill was able to squeeze out the one-point margin of victory with a 24-point fourth quarter. Mabank scored 16 points.
Chapel Hill moved on to the quarterfinal round, where they lost 54-36 to district rival Bullard.