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Live Blog: Thursday’s city council meetings (August 25)

2014 Council

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

Welcome to our live blog from the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, August 25. It’s not the official minutes.

The meeting is being broadcast live on Suddenlink Channel 19 and streamed online. An archive of previous council meetings is available on the website.

5:30 p.m.

The workshop has started.

5:39 p.m.

Consent Agenda Discussion

The council will vote on items listed on the consent agenda during tonight’s regular meeting. Councilmembers pulled this consent item for workshop discussion:

  • Resealing Concrete Joints on Streets: The $591,000 contract with Scodeller is for the resealing of concrete joints on city streets. The contract includes cleaning, sealant and traffic control, and may be renewed for up to two additional one-year terms.
  • Game Day Traffic Control Agreement: As part of the city’s partnership with the Texas A&M University System and other local agencies, the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and city staff developed a traffic control plan to move traffic efficiently after A&M football games. Funds have been appropriated in the Public Works Street Division budget to cover the cost of traffic control deployment. Staff intends to bid the deployment of the equipment and this ILA will allow A&M to cover up to $57,000 of the annual cost.

6:17 p.m.

Water Conservation Efforts

The council heard a presentation about the city’s water conservation efforts, including rebates, irrigation checkups, water waste reductions, conservation-oriented water rates, reclaimed water, rainwater harvesting and the Brazos Valley WaterSmart network.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

6:31 p.m.

The mayor adjourned the workshop after the council discussed its calendar, future agenda items, and committee reports. The regular meeting will start at 7 p.m.

7:00 p.m.

The regular meeting has started. Boy Scout Troop 1300 led the Pledge of Allegiance.

Scout

7:05 p.m.

Mayor Nancy Berry presented a plaque to Planning & Development Services Director Lance Simms recognizing his department for receiving the 2016 Certificate of Achievement for Planning Excellence issued by the Texas Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Presentation1

7:08 p.m.

Mayor Berry presented a proclamation recognizing Municipal Court Operations Supervisor Marie Barringer for becoming a certified court manager after her recent graduation from the Court Management Program. The program is sponsored by the Institute for Court Management and the Texas Municipal Courts Education Center. Since 2000, about 500 court professionals from across the United States, Canada, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands have achieved certification.

Presentation2

7:10 p.m.

The council thanked Wayne Beckermann of Texas A&M’s Student Government Association for representing the A&M student body at council meetings over the last year. Beckermann introduced student senators Joseph Hood, Ben DeLeon, and Carter Stratham, and announced that Stratham would be the new student liaison to the council.

7:13 p.m.

Hear Visitors

One person spoke during Hear Visitors when citizens may address the council on any item that doesn’t appear on the posted agenda. Ben Roper recognized Army Spc. Michael G. Karr, Jr., as part of the Fallen Heroes Memorial program. The 23-year-old San Antonio native died March 31, 2004, when an improvised explosive device hit his armored personnel carrier in Habbaniyah, Iraq.

7:13 p.m.

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve the entire consent agenda:

  • A resolution allowing the mayor to sign a $43,500 advance funding agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation for the city’s cost participation in the reconstruction of the FM 2818 and FM 60 interchange.
  • A resolution setting Sept. 22 (3 p.m.) as a public hearing date regarding possible water and wastewater impact fees.
  • Renewal of an inter-local agreement with the City of Bryan for management of the Larry J. Ringer Library.
  • Bid awards of $114,500 to Wesco Distribution and $10,020 to CAPP, USA for distribution circuit breakers and relays.
  • A change order increasing the contract with BerryDunn by $107,475 for additional project management services and expenses.
  • A $67,410 contract with Stantec Consulting Services for final design and construction phase services for the Carters Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant Blower Replacement Project.
  • A $59,400 contract with DXI Industries for up to 90,000 gallons of sodium hypochlorite solution for the disinfection of the public drinking water supply.
  • Ordered a general and special election on Nov. 8 to elect a mayor and Place 2 city councilmember, and to fill a the final two years of the unexpired term for Place 4 and the final year of the unexpired term for place 3. The ordinance also establishes early voting locations and polling places, and making provisions for conducting the election.
  • A contract not to exceed $591,000 with Scodeller Construction for concrete joint resealing on city streets.
  • A $580,450 contract with Kimley-Horn and Associates for the design and construction phase services for Phase I of the Northeast Trunk Line Project and a preliminary engineering report for the phases 2-4.
  • A five-year Inter-local agreement with Texas A&M to equally share in the traffic control device deployment costs under the Texas A&M Football Postgame Traffic Control Plan. The anticipated annual maximum reimbursement from A&M is $57,000.
  • An $85,043 contract with N-Line Traffic Maintenance for 2016 A&M football game day traffic control implementation.

7:33 p.m.

Science Park Comp Plan Amendment

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the land use designation from Business Park to General Commercial for about 14 acres near The Science Park across Earl Rudder Freeway from Beachy Central Park. The change will allow for commercial development. 

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:42 p.m.

Science Park Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the zoning from Planned Industrial to General Commercial for the same property in the previous item.  

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:51 p.m.

Horseback Court Rezoning

After a public hearing, the council voted unanimously to approve a request to change the zoning from Rural to Restricted Suburban and Natural Areas Protected for about 13 acres at 2744 Horseback Court. The change will allow for residential development.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

7:51 p.m.

The mayor adjourned the meeting. The council meets again on Thursday, Sept. 8.


Colin KillianAbout the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian) has been with the City of College Station since 2010. He previously served 23 years as associate media relations director for Texas A&M Athletics. Killian has also worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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5 things to watch at Thursday’s city council meetings

By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council gathers Thursday at city hall for its workshop (5:30 p.m.) and regular (7 p.m.) meetings. Here are five items to watch:

  1. Water Conservation Efforts: The council will hear a workshop presentation about the city’s water conservation programs.
  2. Northeast Sewer Trunk Line: As part of the consent agenda, the council will consider a $580,000 contract for design and construction services for Phase I of the Northeast Trunk Line Project and a preliminary engineering report for future phases.
  3. Game Day Traffic Control Agreement: The consent agenda also includes a five-year inter-local agreement with Texas A&M to share the deployment costs of traffic control devices. The expected maximum annual reimbursement from the university is $57,000.
  4. Rezoning Near The Science Park: After a pair of public hearings, the council will consider a request to change the land use and zoning designations for about 14 acres along the Rudder Freeway frontage road near The Science Park. The changes will allow for commercial development.
  5. Horseback Court Rezoning: The council will consider a request to change to zoning from Rural to Restricted Commercial and Natural Areas Protected for about 13 acres at 2744 Horseback Court.

The meetings can be watched live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. The website includes an archive of previous council meetings. We’ll post a detailed live blog on this site.

Related Links:                                                                 

 


Colin KillianAbout the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian)has been with the City of College Station since 2010. He previously served 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also done extensive volunteer work for the U.S. Olympic Committee and worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


 

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Podcast: The state of the Zika threat in College Station

By Jay Socol, Public Communications Director

Our incredibly wet spring was followed by a bone-dry summer — until the recent round of storms swept through Texas and other southern states. Mosquito populations are expected to flourish, leading many experts with the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control to believe Texas and Louisiana will become the next hot spots for the Zika virus.

In this edition of our podcast, Neighborhood Services Coordinator Barbara Moore talks about the state of Zika in College Station and throughout Brazos County, and how local authorities are approaching this new, and very real, health threat.

Click below to listen. If Soundcloud doesn’t play in your older version of Internet Explorer, click here to hear to the audio file from your system.

 


csf_jsocolJay Socol (@jaysocol) is in his seventh year as College Station’s public communications director. A 1991 graduate of Texas A&M. Jay has also been communications director for the Texas A&M Engineering Extension Service, public information officer for the City of Bryan, and news director at several Bryan-College Station area radio stations. He’s a native of Breckenridge.


 

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Council reviews proposed budget during workshops

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By Colin Killian, Public Communications Manager

The College Station City Council had its final workshop about the proposed FY17 city budget on Tuesday at the CSU Meeting and Training Facility. The session primarily covered the city’s funding of outside agencies and the hotel tax fund. 

The Fiscal Year 2017 proposed net budget for the City of College Station totals $341 million for all funds, which includes $217.47 million for operations and maintenance and $108 million for capital projects.

Here’s the PowerPoint presentation:

First, my apologies for not posting a blog from Monday’s initial budget workshop. I had to be out-of-town. Before we go into the details of today’s workshop, I’ll briefly recap Monday’s discussion of the general fund, tax rate, and road maintenance fee.

Monday’s Recap

The General Fund accounts for city activities typically considered governmental functions, including Police and Fire, Public Works, Parks and Recreation, and Planning and Development Services. Also included are the primary support services for these areas such as Fiscal Services, Information Technology, and administrative services in General Government.

Proposed FY17 General Fund revenues are $78.1 million, an 11.8 percent increase.

The total net taxable certified value of property in the City of College Station for 2016 is about $7.99 billion, an increase of 11.9 percent from 2015. The increase in value is due in part to $284 million in new construction and development being added to the tax rolls. Existing property values increased by 7.9 percent over 2015.

The FY17 Proposed Budget includes a tax rate of 47.25 cents per $100 assessed valuation, which includes 27.7161 cents for operations and maintenance and 19.5339 cents for debt service. That marks a two-cent increase from the FY16 rate of 45.25. For the owner of a $175,000 home, the new rate would raise the monthly tax bill by less than $3.

Based on the final property value numbers received – the effective tax rate for FY17 is 42.4282 cents. The effective tax rate is the rate that will raise the same revenues as last year on the same properties. The rollback tax rate of 47.2820 cents is the highest that can be adopted before citizens can initiate a petition to lower it back to the rollback rate.

The average tax rate for Texas cities with populations from 75,000-150,000 is about 58 cents. The 10 fastest-growing non-suburbs – excluding College Station – average about 59 cents. The City of Bryan has a tax rate of 62.9 cents, along with a monthly street improvement fee.

The budget also includes a proposed $10 roadway maintenance fee for residential utility customers. The fee would generate about $4 million each year for street and road maintenance, which was cited as a top priority in a recent survey of city residents.   

On Tuesday, the council focused on outside agency funding and the hotel tax fund.

Outside Agency Funding

Total proposed FY16 outside agency funding is $4.46 million. Requested from the General Fund is $1.25 million for these agencies:

  • Research Valley Partnership: $350,000 (operations).
  • Arts Council of Brazos Valley: $35,000 (operations).
  • Noon Lions Club: $15,000 (Fourth of July celebration).
  • Aggieland Humane Society: $235,000 (operations).
  • Brazos County Health District: $326,500 (operations).
  • Brazos Central Appraisal District: $288,661 (operations).

Requested from the Hotel Occupancy Tax Fund is $3.16 million:

  • B-CS Convention & Visitors Bureau: $2,122,616 (operations).
  • B-CS CVB Grant Program: $400,000.
  • Easterwood Airport Advertising: $102,690.
  • Arts Council of Brazos Valley: $91,000 (operations)
  • Arts Council of Brazos Valley: $348,400 (affiliate funding/marketing)
  • Arts Council of Brazos Valley: $43,500 (marketing/public support)
  • Veterans Memorial: $25,000 (development of Civil War memorial).
  • B-CS Chamber of Commerce: $25,000.

Keep Brazos Beautiful requested $51,190 from the Sanitation Fund.

Hotel Tax Fund     

The hotel tax allows the city to collect up to its current rate of 7 percent on rental income of hotels and motels in the city limits.Hotel tax funds can only be spent on specific items that promote tourism.

The FY17 budgeted hotel tax revenue is $5.4 million, a 2.5 percent increase from FY16. Hotel tax revenues are expected to increase due to a solid tourism economy and the addition of several hotels. Total city operating expenditures in the Hotel Tax Fund are increased by 36.4 percent to about $7.4 million, which includes two additional synthetic fields at Veterans Park and provides improvements to existing fields.

About $1.7 million is proposed for the initial phase of the Southeast Park project, and $690,000 is budgeted for the fourth preferred access payment to the Convention & Visitors Bureau for the use ofTexas A&M’s athletic facilities.

Court and Police Seizure Funds

The College Station Municipal Court collects a number of special fees authorized by the state legislature. These fees are the court technology fee, court security fee, efficiency time payment fee, juvenile case manager fee and the truancy prevention fee. Other fees collected specifically for child safety are collected in the General Fund and are used to pay for school crossing guards. These fees are paid by those who pay tickets at College Station Municipal Court.

The Police Seizure Fund accounts for items received through the Police Department as a result of criminal investigations. These funds are used for one-time equipment and other purchases to assist in police activities. Police Seizure Fund revenues are estimated to be $20,401 in FY17 with proposed expenditures of $20,000.

Cemetery Fund

The Memorial Cemetery Fund is a special fund that accounts for two-thirds of the sales of cemetery lots and other revenues through the Memorial Cemetery, which includes the Aggie Field of Honor. For FY17, proposed revenue earnings are $257,004.

Other Special Revenue Funds

  • Wolf Pen Creek TIF Fund: Accounts for ad valorem tax and other revenues that are accrued to the WPC Tax Increment Finance District. The fund also accounts for expenditures on projects that take place in the WPC District.
    • Fund Balance – $1.27 million
    • Expenditures – $5,000
  • West Medical District TIRZ No. 18: Established in December 2012, the West Medical District Tax Increment Refinance Zone encompasses the area near the State Highway 6-Rock Prairie Road Bridge and includes The Med and Scott & White Hospital. Development in this portion of the district is expected to meet or exceed $117 million over a 20-year period, which would yield about $8.4 million in tax proceeds. The funds will be used to support the required improvement projects.
    • Revenue: $230,135 – tax revenue and interest earnings
    • Expenditures: $0
  • East Medical District  TIRZ No. 19: Established in December 2012, the East Medical District TIRZ encompasses the area east of the State Highway 6-Rock Prairie Road Bridge and includes most of the district’s undeveloped properties. Development projects include Rock Prairie Road East, Barron Road, Lakeway Drive, potable water, fire flow water supply, greenway trails, sanitary sewer service, and other public works. New development is expected to meet or exceed $283 million over a 20-year period, which would yield about $30.8 million in tax proceeds. The funds will be used to fund the required improvement projects.
    • Revenue: $2,971 – tax revenue and interest earnings
    • Expenditures: $0
  • Public, Education and Government Access Channel Fee Fund: PEG funds are collected in an amount equal to one percent of Suddenlink Media’s gross revenues, per a new state franchise agreement that replaced a 10-year-old local franchise agreement. These funds, collected quarterly, may be used for educational and governmental broadcasting on Channel 19.
    • Revenue – $201,000 – cable franchise fees and interest earnings
    • Expenditures: $143,640
  • R.E. Meyer Estate Restricted Gift Fund: When Robert Earl “Bob” Meyer passed away in October 2013, he generously bequeathed 25 percent of his estate to the College Station Parks and Recreation Department with the gift restricted for the benefit of senior adult programs.

Electric Fund

The electric utility provides for the construction of new facilities needed to extend electrical service to new consumers, performs repairs and maintenance to the electric system, and installs and maintains street and traffic lights. Electric utility employees maintain over 20 miles of electric transmission lines, seven electrical substations, and more than 450 miles of overhead and underground electric distribution lines.

A one percent decrease in electric rates is proposed in the FY17 budget. Revenues of $102 million are projected with operating expenditures of $73.4 million and non-operating expenditures of about $31 million, which includes $16.8 million in capital projects.

Water Fund

As a city enterprise, the full cost of service for water production, transmission and distribution is recovered by charging customers for consumption on a per unit basis. 

No water rate increase is included in the FY17 budget. Revenues of $15.8 million are projected with operating expenditures of $8.2 million, non-operating expenditures of about $9.2 million, and $8.7 million in capital projects.

Wastewater Fund

Wastewater services are provided as an enterprise function with service-related fees paying for the cost of service. 

An eight percent increase in wastewater rates is included in the FY16 budget. Revenues of $16.7 million are projected with operating expenditures of $7.1 million, non-operating expenditures of about $13.2 million, and $14.4 million in capital projects.

Sanitation Fund

The Sanitation Division of Public Works serves the city’s solid waste collection needs, including curbside recycling, brush and grass clipping collection, street sweeping, removal of waste and the provision of residential containers. Commercial services are also provided to local businesses.

No sanitation rate increase is included in the FY17 budget. Revenues of $9.6 million are projected with operating expenditures of $9 million and non-operating expenditures of about $867,000 million.

Drainage Fund

Like all the city’s enterprise funds, the goal of the drainage fund is to provide a quality service at a reasonable cost. No rate increase is included in the FY17 budget, which projects expenditures of about $1.8 million.

Northgate Parking Fund

The Northgate Parking Fund accounts for parking operations in the Northgate District, including the surface parking lot on Patricia Street, the College Main Parking Garage and on-street parking. Revenues of $1.4 million are projected with operating expenditures of $1.3 million.

Internal Service Funds

The City of College Station is partially self-insured for property, casualty and general liability, workers compensation and unemployment compensation. The city became self-funded for employee and dependent health care in January 2004. The current program is administered by Blue Cross/Blue Shield. These insurance funds are accounted for as Internal Service Funds.

  • Property & Casualty Insurance: $1.12 million in expenditures and transfers.
  • Employee Benefits Fund: $12.7 million in expenditures and transfers.
  • Workers Compensation Insurance: $678,000 in expenditures and transfers.
  • Unemployment Insurance Fund: $50,000 in expenditures.

Equipment Replacement Fund

The Equipment Replacement Fund is an internal service fund that provides equipment and fleet replacements. The FY17 budget projects about $6.2 million in expenditures and revenues of $6.6 million.

Fleet Maintenance Fund

The Fleet Maintenance Fund is an Internal Service Fund that receives revenue based on expected costs of departmental transportation and uses those funds to pay for maintaining the city’s fleet of vehicles. The FY17 budget projects about $2.1 million in expenditures and revenues of $2.2 million.

Utility Customer Service

The Utility Customer Service Fund is an Internal Service Fund that accounts for expenses associated with reading electric and water meters, completing connect and disconnect requests, and providing customer service activities including billing and collections for electric, water, wastewater, sanitation, and drainage utilities.

The FY17 budget projects about $2.8 million in expenditures and revenues of $2.65 million.

What’s Ahead?

A public hearing on the proposed tax rate of 47.25 is scheduled for 7 p.m. on August 31 at city hall. A public hearing on the budget and tax rate will be at 7 p.m. on Sept. 8 at city hall. Budget adoption is set for Sept. 22.


Colin KillianAbout the Author

Colin Killian (@ColinKillian)has been with the City of College Station since 2010. He previously served 23 years as associate media relations director for the Texas A&M Athletics Department. Killian has also done extensive volunteer work for the U.S. Olympic Committee and worked as a reporter and editor for the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Lewisville News. A native of Hobbs, N.M., he graduated from Texas Tech with a bachelor’s degree in journalism/political science.


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A tribute to the noble legacy of the late Bob Meyer

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By Kelly Kelbly, Recreation Manager

When I worked at the Southwood Community Center, Robert “Bob” Meyer would join me every morning for a cup of coffee.

As time went on, I found myself arriving just a little earlier to greet Mr. Meyer. I came to cherish his perspective and insight as I went about my daily routine. In parks and recreation, we convince ourselves we’re here to make a difference in your life when, in reality, it often turns out the other way.

When Mr. Meyer passed away in 2013 at the age of 81, he left about $750,000 to benefit senior programs in the Parks & Recreation Department. On Tuesday, we dedicated a plaque at Southwood honoring the memory of Mr. Meyer and his lovely wife, Wanda.

Mr. Meyer was a loyal member of Southwood. He served on our Senior Advisory Committee, participated in many of our programs and activities, and volunteered each year assisting head start kids at Pool Trout Fish Out. He and Wanda never had children, and after Wanda passed away, Bob adopted the staff and other members of Southwood as his family.

As it turns out, Mr. Meyer did not just impact me. His presence was felt by many of our seniors as well. The beauty of who he was isn’t that he was a great man who accomplished great things. The simplicity is what makes him truly special. He was a simple and good man who served others.

Thank you, Mr. Meyer, for being a bright spot in our world.

Related Blog

 


kkbioAbout the Author

Kelly Kelbly is in her 15th year with the College Station Parks & Recreation Department. A native of Gilmer, Kelly is a 1998 graduate of Texas A&M.


 

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Flood insurance premiums lower in College Station

By Donnie Willis, Environmental Engineer/Drainage Inspector

In July, the Texas Water Development Board evaluated the City of College Station’s floodplain management ordinances and enforcement practices to determine their effectiveness in meeting National Flood Insurance Program (NFIP) regulations.

The report found that College Station is one of the few communities with no issues.

In 1968, Congress created NFIP to help provide flood insurance to homeowners, renters, and business owners. Participating communities agree to adopt and enforce ordinances that meet or exceed Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) requirements to reduce the risk of flooding.

The program rates the City of College Station as a Class-7 Community, which results in lower flood insurance premiums. Our flood insurance rates are reduced 15 percent for structures in Special Flood Hazard Areas and 5 percent in 500-year areas. Preferred Risk Policies are already at reduced rates and don’t have additional premium reductions.

Flood insurance basics

Anywhere it rains, it can flood. And it only takes a few inches of water to cause major home damage. Since standard homeowner’s insurance doesn’t cover flooding, it’s important to know your flood insurance options.

Many people are under the misconception that they are ineligible for flood insurance because of where they live, or their mortgage status. But the truth is, most can get flood insurance if they live in or outside a floodplain, their property has flooded before, and even if their mortgage broker doesn’t require it.

The law requires flood insurance for property owners in high-risk areas, or Special Flood Hazard Areas, with a federally-backed mortgage. Also, if you’ve received a federal grant or loan for previous flood losses, you must have a flood policy to qualify for future aid.

For more details about flood insurance, visit FloodSmart.gov. To learn more about local floodplain management, visit cstx.gov/floodplains.

 


Willis_DonnieAbout the Author

Donnie Willis is in his 12th year as the City of College Station’s environmental engineer and drainage inspector. After 23 years in the U.S. Army, he served as the safety and environmental compliance manager at Trajen, Inc., from 2000-04. A native of Evans, La., Willis earned a bachelor’s degree in aeronautics from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in 1987 and an associate of science degree in occupational safety and health for Texas State Technical College in 1995.


 

Photo Credit: lightwise / 123RF Stock Photo

 

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