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.
Posted by : February 22, 2017| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Posted by : February 22, 2017| On :
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.
Posted by : February 17, 2017| On :
By Pearl Cantrell
Monitor Staff Writer
SEVEN POINTS–The Library at Cedar Creek Lake will be getting a new look with a new roof treatment. The Seven Points City Council approved a budget offered by the Economic Development Cooperation, which includes $112,000 for roof repairs to the library building, which it owns.
EDC President Kevin Pollack and Vice President Mac McKinsey explained the roof work will add a foam pad to even out the ridges, which will then be spread with a synthetic membrane. The 19-year-old metal roof has developed leaks that cannot be located. Water infiltration is causing damage to key building systems, Pollack said.
The plan is to insulate and seal the entire roof. A side benefit includes reducing the temperature inside due to greater reflection of heat off the roof. The familiar green roof will most likely be replaced with a gray or off white one, council members were told. Once begun, the project should take six to seven weeks, McKinsey said.
Another item on the EDC budget includes contract labor to organize and file paperwork that has been accumulating, Pollack explained.
The EDC is funded by a small portion of the sales tax collected in the city, which added up to about $132,220 in 2016, Pollack said. But this year’s budget with the roof work totals around $298,000. The EDC plans to use savings it has accrued to make up the difference between what it expects to collect and what it plans to spend. This account was set up initially to cover expenses and operation costs for the library and now totals $265,560.12 Pollack said.
The council approved the EDC budget and plans for the library roof repair.
In other business, the council members:
• ordered an election for May 6 for three council positions now being held by Andy Purdue, Claudett Allsup and Tommy Taylor.
• tabled a discussion and vote on the 2016-17 budget. Most the members had not had time to look over the budget worked on by Council woman Cheryl Jones.
• granted a request by Dan Waitman for a 24-hour security trailer at 201 Main Place Blvd for six months while he develops the property to re-open for business.
• took no action on a request of John Stewart and Mark Conn for a property on Pritchett to be used as rental cabins with a live-in manager. Those making the request did not appear to explain their project and request.
• accepted two resignations from the police department and approved the hiring of two replacements – Kevin Lewis and Cameron Beckham.