The Brownfield City Council met on Thursday morning December 2, 2021, to work through a small agenda. After the call to order and other preliminary items, the Council would hear from City Inspector Israel Limon to present the Inspection Department’s quarterly report for July 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021.
Limon showed the Council the number of different building permits that were granted from July 1, 2021, to September 30, 2021. Before the moratorium on carports, there were 13 carports added to residential housing, which has been a total of 34 for the fiscal year. According to City Attorney Matt Wade, he will be coming back real soon with the new city ordinance on carports. A total of 26 permits were granted in July 2021 ranging from carports to roofs, in August and September there were 19 permits granted each of those months. There was a total of 199 permits granted for the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Limon also showed the Council the number of electrical, mechanical, and plumbing (EMP) permits granted. In July 2021, there were a total of 22 EMP permits, in August 2021 there were 31 EMP permits, and in Sept. 2021 there were 40 EMP permits granted, plus a total of 349 for the fiscal year.
Moving on to the Parks and Recreation Dept., Director, Scott Jackson, presented his quarterly report for July 1, 2021, through September 30, 2021. Jackson told the Council that everything is going well, they now have the slab poured for the bleachers at the football/activity field in Coleman Park. Jackson noted his team is gearing up for the winter and had begun to winterize the restrooms and other buildings in the parks.
However, the main topic for the Parke and Rec. Dept., was the Brownfield Family Aquatic Center. Councilwoman Michelle Cooper and Councilman Eric Horton asked questions about the timeline and cost. Back in February 2021 when Winter Storm Uri hit the state, there were several pipes underneath the pool that cracked. Before summer came around, the city tried to get the issues fixed, however, they did not know the extent of the problems and this forced the city to shut down the pool for the second year in a row. Once the city got the information of bad the issues were, they called in a pool professional to help take care of it.
In October 2021, the company came and began the assessment of what to do. Jackson told the Council the construction was not as bad as they had thought. There was fear that portions of the bottom of the pool would be completely pulled out to fix the leaking pipes. That was not the case as the company came and used a special cutting tool to trench the concrete and reach the leaking pipes. According to City manager Jeff Davis, as of now, the pipes are fixed and the company used air to test the pipes to see if there are any leaks and with the air test there are not. Jackson said, “We will not for sure if the pipes are completely fixed until we add the water back in, then we will know for sure if it’s not leaking.” Jackson and Davis also stated that the repairs will not go over what was budgeted, which was $100K. “We are very hopeful the pool will be open this coming season,” said Jackson.
The Council then moved on to the next two items of business which were to hear and consider an order for redistricting of political boundaries of the City of Brownfield based on the new 2020 Census, also to hear and consider a plan establishing criteria for the redistricting. The Council has previously retained the firm of Allison, Bass & Magee, LLP, of Austin, Texas, to conduct an initial assessment of existing political boundaries of the City of Brownfield, following the issuance of census data by the United States Census Bureau. Based upon this information, the City of Brownfield has a total maximum deviation of 18.81%. Any total maximum deviation in excess of ten percent (10%) is presumptively unconstitutional under established federal law. As a result of this determination, the City of Brownfield has a constitutional duty to redistrict its political boundaries so as to achieve a “One-Person-One-Vote” numerical balance between the five City Council districts at a legally acceptable margin of deviation, and to make such changes as are necessary to comply with the Voting Rights Act and applicable state and federal law.
According to Davis, District five (5), which is represented by Councilman Eric Horton has the most change in the city. Initially, District One (1), represented by Councilman Ricky Rocha had the most decrease in population, however, with the TDCJ Jim Rudd Unit shutting its doors, the inmates who were counted earlier will no longer be used in the redistricting process and made District 5 have the most decrease in population. However, District Two (2), represented by Councilman Celso Duran saw a 13.88% increase in population. Now, the Council will call a meeting that is “duly scheduled and posted” where they “must establish criteria for use in the redistricting of all City political boundaries.” This meeting will occur on Thursday, Dec. 16, 2021, when they will see the new map of boundary lines for each district. According to Davis, after the 2021 Census and redistricting took place, a lawsuit was filed against the city for not having an equal population of ethnicities represented in each district. Davis stated, “These criteria we have should keep us from being sued because it is equitable for all citizens in Brownfield.”
The Council adjourned and the next meeting is slated for Dec. 16, 2021, at 7:30 a.m. in the Council Chambers at City Hall. All eight members of the council were present.