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Agenda for 10-4-2011 Council Meeting

2011/10/04

http://ci.stephenville.tx.us/City%20Government/City%20Council%20Agendas/2011%20Agendas/11%2010%2004.pdf

 

I. Call to Order
II. Citizens’ General Discussion
III. Community Services Annual Report—Drew Wells, Director of Community Services
IV. PERSONNEL COMMITTEE REPORT
A. Texas Municipal Retirement System
B. Evaluation Process for City Administrator, City Attorney, and City Secretary
C. Employee Pay Adjustments
D. Employee Health Insurance
V. PLANNING AND DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE REPORT
A. Consider Approval of Professional Services Agreement for the Park Master Plan Update
B. Consider Approval of Changes to the Permitting Process
C. Fire Station No. 2
VI. First Reading of the Oncor Electric Franchise Ordinance
VII. GOODS IN TRANSIT
A. Public Hearing Concerning Taxing Goods in Transit
B. Consider Approval of Ordinance No. 2011-23 Taxing Goods in Transit
VIII. Consider Approval of Resolution of No. 2011-09 for the Implementation of Improvements to Stephenville Clark Regional Airport
IX. CONSENT AGENDA–Approve Minutes
A. Regular Council Meeting on September 6, 2011
B. Special Council Meeting on September 13, 2011
C. Special Council Meeting on September 20, 2011
X. Comments by City Administrator
XI. Comments by Council members
A. EXECUTIVE SESSION. In compliance with the provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Law, Subchapter D, Government Code, Vernon’s Texas Codes, Annotated, in accordance with Sec. 551.07071(1)(A) Consultation with Attorney; pending or contemplated litigation–Jay and Jamie Anthony d/b/a Cowboy’s Convenience Store
XII. Action taken on matters discussed in Executive Session (if necessary)
XIII. Adjourn

Followup on Tax Increase

2011/09/20

See also Empire Tribune article on tax increasse

Once again, Mike Boucher gave an excellent argument against the tax increase, but it was still disregarded by the majority of the council.

Boucher had reviewed the last six years’ CAFRs, and felt that the projections for sales tax revenue were excessively low; as in, low by far more than the increase in overall revenue that would be generated by the tax increase.  This parallels arguments made by both Nash and Svien over the last few weeks.

Nash proposed that the base operating rate be left as it is, and only the debt service portion of the rate be increased slightly to offset interest on the city’s debts, pointing out that even the worst year of the last several generated far more sales tax revenues than would be needed to cover the amount the proposed increase would generate.

Svien spoke in favor of Nash’s motion, raising the point that the sales tax revenues are looked at as “extra” money at mid-year, and are spent with less concern than should be given to such issues as a result.

McDanel also supported the motion, saying that he agrees that the budget revenue projections are underrestimated to the point that the tax increase is not necessary.

Evans spoke against the motion.  Although he admitted that he expects at least $400,000 surplus at mid-year, he doesn’t want to risk having less money available if the actual revenues aren’t that good.  He once again brought up the 3 million the city had “saved” by not acting on every single citizen request for new capital projects, which is quite reminiscent of a certain article in Yahoo Finance.

Nash’s motion failed, with only Nash, Svien and McDanel in favor.

Alan Nix moved acceptance of the original proposal for the full increase, which passed with only Nash, Svien and McDanel against it.

Tax Increase

2011/09/20

The vote went pretty much as expected, with Nash proposing an alternative which failed with only Nash, Svien and McDanel in favor, followed by the original full increase which passed with the same three against it.  I might have some details to add once I look over my notes and get back to a full-size keyboard.

Second Public Hearing on the Tax Increase

2011/09/14

(Yes, I know they’re carefully wording it as “new tax rate,” and not “tax increase,” but let’s call it what it is.)

Only three speakers at the public hearing, and all were against the increase.  The point was brought up that alcohol sales have increased sales tax revenues for the city, reinforcing Mike Boucher’s point from last week that sales tax estimates are low by a greater amount than the increased revenues from the proposed property tax increase, but it does not appear that any council members were swayed by this or any other comments.

The actual vote on the increase will be next Tuesday, September 20, at 5:30PM.

http://ci.stephenville.tx.us/Council%20Public%20Notices/NoticeTaxRevenue.pdf

City Council Meeting 9-6-2011 Followup

2011/09/06

My comments in blue as usual.

I. Call to Order
II. Citizens’ General Discussion

No one speaking.

III. Erath County Appraisal District Annual Report, Mark Littleton, City Representative; Jerry Lee, Chief Appraiser

No significant changes.  This is somewhat positive, given the negative changes in most of the rest of the country.
IV. Consider Approval of Ordinance No. 2011-17 Adopting Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance

Passed unanimously.

V. Consider and take action on Ordinance No. 2011-18 authorizing the issuance and sale of the City’s Combination Tax and Revenue Certificates of Obligation, Series 2011 in the amount of $4,000,000, and approving all other matters pertaining thereto

Passed unanimously. 

VI. Public Hearing on the Tax Rate for 2011

Five speakers, all against the tax increase; all reminded the council that we are already in hard economic times, and that the school and county tax increases, as well as the city fees are making it hard for residents and businesses alike to make ends meet. 

VII. Consider Ordinance No. 2011-19 Adopting the Annual Budget for the Fiscal Year Beginning October 1, 2011 and Ending September 30, 2012

Doug Svien brought up the question of the revenue estimates; Kaiser has always estimated the sales tax revenue well below what actual revenues turned out to be.  In this case, as Mike Boucher had pointed out during the tax rate public hearing, the amount of the underestimation is likely to equal a significant portion of the expected revenue increase from the tax rate increase.  Svien would prefer to defer the proposed purchase of a new fire truck until midyear when sales tax revenue estimates will be more accurate, and eliminate the property tax increase altogether.  Motion by Svien, seconded by Nash to amend the budget to defer the fire truck purchase, failed with only Nash and Svien in favor.  Motion by Nash, seconded by Svien to defer city employee raises until midyear, also failed with only Nash and Svien in favor.  Motion to pass budget without amendments (sorry, didn’t catch who moved or seconded) passed with only Nash and Svien against.

VIII. Consider Ordinance No. 2011–20 Adopting the Fee Schedule

Passed unanimously.
IX. Consider Approval of Child Safety Funds

Approximately $9,000 available from fees on all citations issued in school zones.  Three requests totaling $7,535 from STAR Council, Stephenville ISD and Cross Timbers Family Services.  Separate votes were taken, as follows; STAR Council request – Martha Taylor abstained and motion passed without any dissent, SISD request – Scott Evans abstained and this motion also passed without dissent, CTFS request passed unanimously with no abstentions.

X. Consider Approval of Resolution No. 2011-08 Establishing a Moratorium for Permits for Residential Structures with Exterior Metal Walls

Nash asked if the moratorium was intended to deal with a specific issue and was informed that it was in reference to a particular apartment complex on Kight Street.  Motion by Cude second by McDanel, passed unanimously.

XI. Consider Approval of Assistants to Firefighters Grant Program

Fire department requesting a grant of $235,000 for a computerized reporting and recordkeeping system and three cardiac monitors.  The city will match 5% of the grant from reserved grant-matching funds.  Motion by Nix, second by Nash, passed unanimously.

XII. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Approve Minutes
1. Regular Council Meeting on August 2, 2011
2. Special Council Meeting on August 16, 2011
B. Approve Agreement with City of Fort Worth for Household Hazardous Waste
C. Approve NCTCOG Interlocal Agreement for 9-1-1 Service and Equipment
D. Memorandum of Understanding with Texas Forest Service
E. Routine Airport Maintenance Program with Texas Department of Transportation
Regular Business Meeting—September 6, 2011
F. Change Orders
1. Caporal Lane
2. Concrete Sidewalks
G. Bid Awards
1. Brick Street No. 2
2. Street Materials
3. Bank Depository Services
4. Office Supplies

Cude asked to remove item G3 from the consent agenda, and the remainder was passed unanimously without further comment.  Cude then noted that he was abstaining from the vote on item G3 and it was also passed without further comment.

H. Authorization to Sell City Property—2008 Dodge Charger

Passed.  Anybody need a Charger with squealing brakes?  I think they did at least wear all the goo from the window sticker off.

XIII. Comments by City Administrator

September 9th at 9AM, at the Birdsong Amphitheater stage, our public safety officials will be holding a remembrance service to commemorate the 9-11 attacks.

XIV. Comments by Council Members

McDanel commented that he still doesn’t want the tax increase, but he does want the new firetruck to replace the current 18 year old one.

XV. EXECUTIVE SESSION. In compliance with the provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Law, Subchapter D, Government Code, Vernon’s Texas Codes, Annotated, in accordance with Sec. 551.07071(1)(A) Consultation with Attorney; pending or contemplated litigation and Sec. 551.072 Deliberations about Real Property.
A. Part of Lot 1, Block 13, Shapard and Collins Addition; 704 West Frey Street
B. Airport Hanger—Flying A Investments, LLC
C. Lamar Advertising Holding Company v. City of Stephenville, CV31132, Erath County District Court
D. Curt Garrison Drainage Easement
E. Consider authorizing the City Attorney to file suit against a landowner adjacent to the airport to correct and abate a violation of the City’s Airport Hazard Zoning Ordinance
F. Jay and Jamie Anthony d/b/a Cowboy’s Convenience Store
XVI. Action taken on Matters Discussed in Executive Session
XVII. Adjourn

I didn’t eat before the meeting, so I didn’t stick around to find out the results of the executive session.

City Council Meeting 9-6-2011 Agenda

2011/09/03

http://ci.stephenville.tx.us/City%20Government/City%20Council%20Agendas/2011%20Agendas/11%2009%2006.pdf

STEPHENVILLE CITY COUNCIL
Regular Business Meeting
City Hall Council Chambers
298 West Washington Street
Tuesday, September 6, 2011, at 5:30 p.m.
I. Call to Order
II. Citizens’ General Discussion
III. Erath County Appraisal District Annual Report, Mark Littleton, City Representative; Jerry Lee, Chief Appraiser
IV. Consider Approval of Ordinance No. 2011-17 Adopting Flood Damage Prevention Ordinance
V. Consider and take action on Ordinance No. 2011-18 authorizing the issuance and sale of the City’s Combination Tax and Revenue Certificates of Obligation, Series 2011 in the amount of $4,000,000, and approving all other matters pertaining thereto
VI. Public Hearing on the Tax Rate for 2011
VII. Consider Ordinance No. 2011-19 Adopting the Annual Budget for the Fiscal Year Beginning October 1, 2011 and Ending September 30, 2012
VIII. Consider Ordinance No. 2011–20 Adopting the Fee Schedule
IX. Consider Approval of Child Safety Funds
X. Consider Approval of Resolution No. 2011-08 Establishing a Moratorium for Permits for Residential Structures with Exterior Metal Walls
XI. Consider Approval of Assistants to Firefighters Grant Program
XII. CONSENT AGENDA
A. Approve Minutes
1. Regular Council Meeting on August 2, 2011
2. Special Council Meeting on August 16, 2011
B. Approve Agreement with City of Fort Worth for Household Hazardous Waste
C. Approve NCTCOG Interlocal Agreement for 9-1-1 Service and Equipment
D. Memorandum of Understanding with Texas Forest Service
E. Routine Airport Maintenance Program with Texas Department of Transportation
Regular Business Meeting—September 6, 2011
F. Change Orders
1. Caporal Lane
2. Concrete Sidewalks
G. Bid Awards
1. Brick Street No. 2
2. Street Materials
3. Bank Depository Services
4. Office Supplies
H. Authorization to Sell City Property—2008 Dodge Charger
XIII. Comments by City Administrator
XIV. Comments by Council Members
XV. EXECUTIVE SESSION. In compliance with the provisions of the Texas Open Meetings Law, Subchapter D, Government Code, Vernon’s Texas Codes, Annotated, in accordance with Sec. 551.07071(1)(A) Consultation with Attorney; pending or contemplated litigation and Sec. 551.072 Deliberations about Real Property.
A. Part of Lot 1, Block 13, Shapard and Collins Addition; 704 West Frey Street
B. Airport Hanger—Flying A Investments, LLC
C. Lamar Advertising Holding Company v. City of Stephenville, CV31132, Erath County District Court
D. Curt Garrison Drainage Easement
E. Consider authorizing the City Attorney to file suit against a landowner adjacent to the airport to correct and abate a violation of the City’s Airport Hazard Zoning Ordinance
F. Jay and Jamie Anthony d/b/a Cowboy’s Convenience Store
XVI. Action taken on Matters Discussed in Executive Session
XVII. Adjourn

The Importance of Participation in Local Politics

2011/09/03

This is a variant of an article I’ve been thinking of for a while, and finally got around to putting it together for the “open topic” speech in the Intro to Public Speaking class I’m taking.

One of the biggest issues facing candidates for local offices is the lack of voter turnout; everyone has an opinion about local politics, but getting more than a small percentage to actually go vote is extremely difficult.  Our city has a population of just over 17,000 people, 8,608 of which are registered to vote.  Of those, 779 – barely nine percent of the registered voters – turned out to vote in the May election.  In the three contested city council races, the winning margins were 418, 83 and 24 votes; the number of people in a typical college class would have changed the outcome of one race, and the lunchtime crowd at any fast food restaurant would easily have changed the outcome of two.  These results aren’t unusual, unfortunately; in last year’s election, the city’s turnout was 694, and it rarely exceeds ten percent of registered voters, or six percent of the total population.

Based on the total turnout last election, anyone receiving 390 votes would have been assured of victory in a two-way race, and 347 would have been enough to win in 2010.  Effectively, this means that two percent of the city’s population determines the outcome of the local elections.  The most common reason people give for not voting in any particular election is that they feel their vote won’t matter, and so it’s not worth the effort to get to the polls, yet four times as many people vote in state and Federal elections as in local elections where their vote is likely to make a real difference.

Of course, to a candidate, this means that it’s only necessary to persuade three to four hundred voters, rather than the eight to nine thousand that the population count would suggest, or even the four thousand that the voter registration numbers imply.  To all of us, however, it means that any minority capable of swaying just over two percent of the people of our city can easily take over its government. The only way to prevent this is to get more informed voters to the polls.

Among the reasons for the lack of voter participation is the difficulty of obtaining reliable information on local politics and candidates; in recent years, newspapers may carry only one or two political articles of local interest in a month, even when there are ten or more items on that month’s meeting agenda, and in a town without significant competition in radio and TV broadcast markets, neither of these becomes a good source for information.  The majority of the people I spoke  during my campaign weren’t even aware that there were elections in May, nor were many of them familiar with the city council or the school board.   On the other hand, as internet access has become more and more widespread, individual bloggers are starting to fill this gap in some areas.  The ease of use of such media, and the ability to reach a large audience without the cost of traditional media, and the simple fact that there’s always room for another viewpoint, even on a well-covered subject, has made the internet an excellent resource for candidates and voters alike.

I hope that some of you will take the time to attend local government meetings, learn about the processes involved in city, county and school district business, and share the information you obtain with others, but mostly I hope that you will all seek out information about local candidates for these offices, and will use that information to participate in your local government in the most important way; by being an informed voter.