After postponing their regular first Monday meeting because of the Labor Day holidays, the City Council met in regular session on Monday, September 11, in the City Hall chambers where they addressed a lengthy two-hour agenda.
After the innovation led by Ronald Weir there were a few announcements. Councilman Clinton Bowman congratulated the Mustang football team for their 2-0 start this season. And the entire Council congratulated Councilmember Joan Breith on her 59th wedding anniversary.
After the approval of the minutes City Manager Stan David conducted a Public Hearing on the 2017-2018 budget. After going through the high points of the budget, David opened the floor for public discussion. Since there were no questions or comments the Council moved into their regular agenda.
Economic Development Corporation Executive Director David Mitchell met with the Council to discuss several items. First on his list was requesting the Council’s approval of expenditures exceeding $10,000 for expenses in the first annual Tamale Festival, which will be held the weekend of December 1-2. Mitchell presented each Council member an estimated revenue and expenses paper which showed estimated revenues of $32,400 and expenses of $38,650, which would be a deficit of $6,250.
“These are only estimates on both sides, but we feel like we are in the ball park,” Mitchell said. “Of course, we are hoping revenues will be more and the expenses are less, but this should be a fairly close estimate.”
The highest expense of his list was the tamale dinner which was estimated at $11,000. There was also an expense of $7,500 for entertainment, which will include a Mariachi band. Most of the revenue is expected to come from the ticket sales and sponsorships which they estimated to be a combined $25,200,
Even though this date coincides with the annual Denver City Mustang and Fillie basketball tournament, Mitchell sees this as a positive for drawing more people into the event.
“There will be a bunch of family in here to watch their kid playing basketball that weekend,” Mitchell said. “Between games there are many activities they can attend which hopefully will make it a better festival.”
A motion was made to approve the expenditures and was unanimously approved.
The next item Mitchell presented the DCEDC 2018 budget. It showed an income of $215,500 and expenses of $215,145. Mitchell also shared income and expenses from 2016-2017 which were $196,400 and $163,810 respectively.
The Council also unanimously approved his new budget.
And the last item Mitchell presented to the Council were two appointments to the EDC board. The term for each board member is three years and they are appointed and approved by the City Council. Up for appointment this year was Dan Swanson and Joe Kay. After a motion was made these two board members were once again appointed for another three-year term.
Other members of the board include Josh Parker (2018) and Charlie Espinoza and Bill Helwig (2019).
Criminal District Attorney Bill Helwig was also in attendance to update the Council on his contracted investigator position. Helwig basically thanked the Council for their continued support of his office and particularly of his special investigator Wesley Moore, who was appointed by Helwig last January after former investigator Ray Scifres became Sheriff of Hockley County.
Moore also took time to address the Council and thanked them for their support of the CDA office and his position. He explained some of his duties while working for Helwig, including the possible use of drones in their investigations.
Both Moore and Helwig also thanked Police Chief Jack Miller and his officers for their help in their work.
The City contributes $11,500 annually toward Moore’s salary.
Taking up a considerable amount of time was once again a lengthy discussion of the electrical ordinance and state laws related to requirements for licensing. City Attorney Warren New had done some extensive research on this topic since the last meeting and addressed the Council with his findings.
Summing up his research New informed the Council that a person may do electrical work on his residence, as long as he was living there, but could not do any major work on any other property, including his rental property. He also noted no one could “piggy back” a master electrician’s city permit he had obtained to do any major electrical work, the work had to be done by either the master electrician or one of his employees.
New did say anyone could do minor electrical repairs such as changing out electrical plugs and/or light switches.
John Carruth, who is Denver City’s electrical inspector, was also at the meeting and shared a questionnaire he had sent to five area municipalities, Andrews, Brownfield, Lamesa, Levelland, and Seminole. The questionnaire consisted of two questions: 1) Does the municipalities allow the homeowner to apply for an Electrical Permit to repair, alter, or upgrade electrical work on a single-family dwelling that he/she resides in as long as they are doing the work themselves, and 2) Are rental property owners (landlords) allowed to apply for an Electrical Permit to repair, alter, or upgrade electrical work on property that they own?
The answer on question one was a unanimous “Yes” and on question two the answer was a unanimous “No”. Each municipality noted on question one that the homeowner MUST reside in the home and have said property designated as his/her homestead.
Jim Hunnicutt, who attended the previous meeting with his concerns, was also involved in the lengthy discussions.
After several more minutes of discussion, Mayor Tommy Hicks thanked everyone who had offered their ideas and then addressed Hunnicutt, “Jim, we are sorry and we do understand where you are coming from, but basically our hands are tied. There is nothing we can do for you without you going back to get your license. Thank you for coming and thank you for your input,” the Mayor said.
The previous Press article over the last Council meeting erroneously noted Hunnicutt had his Master Electrician license, he corrected that saying he had his Journeyman’s license, but not his Master’s license.
Next on the agenda was another lengthy discussion on the use of cell phones, especially texting, in school zones. Chief of Police Jack Miller addressed that issue and said the state legislature had recently pass a law making it illegal to be texting from a moving vehicle. The law became effective on September 1, 2017.
Miller also addressed the Council requesting approval to purchase a new computer server and workstation necessary for their operations at the Police Department. The total cost would be $11,500. The Council unanimously approved his request.
In the next item Miller also requested funds to purchase two new vehicle camera systems to replace older systems. The cost of those cameras will be $4,989.00 each. The Council also unanimously approved this request.
Miller noted there were budgeted funds within his department to cover these expenses.
The next item was quickly addressed as the Council unanimously denied Southwest Public Service request for a rate increase by adopting Resolution No. 2017-0911.
SPS had filed an application on August 21, 2017, to increase their base rates by approximately $80.9 million in annual revenue, which represents base revenue increase of 14.9%.
The Council also unanimously approved a $10,000 TxDOT grant for general maintenance as needed for repairs at the Denver City airport. There were several items for maintenance listed in the grant.
And in their last item Danny Benson has requested permission to plant a tree in memory of Kathy Smiley’s mom at the Kiddie Park or some other suitable location. “I think trees (in memory of someone) is a good thing,” David said.
After going into a short Executive Session, the Council came out and unanimously approved the payment of city bills in the amount of $100,672.14.
Council members Joan Breith, Ronald Weir, Robert Hanneman, Clinton Bowman, Mark Sherman, and Keith Mensch along with Mayor Tommy Hicks were all in attendance.
The Council will meet again on Monday, September 18, at 7pm in City Hall chambers.