City Council Meeting Summary (Feb. 10, 2011)

This blog is a short summary of the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, Feb. 10, and is not the official minutes. Changes made to specific items will be recorded in the minutes, which will be available in approximately two weeks.

Workshop Meeting Highlights

Fair Housing Ordinance Changes
David Gwin, Director of Economic and Community Development, reported on changes to the city’s Fair Housing ordinance, which is required for participation in HUD programs.  The Federal Housing Act prohibits discrimination in housing based on several protected classes. Exemptions include owner-occupied buildings with no more than four units and single-family housing sold or rented without a broker.  Gwin said the city needed to add familial status and handicapped to bring the city ordinance in line with federal and state acts.  This change prohibits discrimination in financing of housing based on protected status and provides additional protection for disabled persons or familial status.

VOTEThe Council unanimously voted to add familial status and handicapped persons to match the current sections in the federal and state acts. 

Joint Meeting with the Cemetery Committee
The Cemetery Committee proposed two changes related to aesthetics and ease of maintenance.  The committee recommended limiting the number of items per grave space to two and to remove the existing variance request process. Under current regulations, an unspecified number of plants, flowers, and objects of a temporary nature could be placed on graves, which affected aesthetics and increased maintenance requirements.

The current appeals process also allows cemetery lot owners to present variance requests to the Cemetery Advisory Committee, with appeals made to the city council. The committee has worked to preserve the look of the cemeteries that is a result of monument restrictions that have been in place since 1948. The committee felt that allowing exceptions to the monument size restrictions goes against the intent that has been established. In addition, the committee felt there is no compelling reason for not complying with current restrictions.

VOTE: The council voted 6-1 to approve the committee’s recommendations. Voting against was Jess Fields.

Impact Fee Report for Water/Wastewater
Director of Water Services David Coleman updated the Council on the impact fee report and said the rate credit calculations are complete with maximum fees established. Director of Finance Jeff Kersten reported on how impact fees affect utility rates. Assumptions included collecting impact fees for five years, assuming a capital project in the amount of $10 million, and considering various funding sources.  The assumption used was $1 million cash with impact fees at the maximum of $1,480 for 500 LUE’s for water and $1,578 for 600 LUE’s for wastewater.  They also assumed a long-term debt of 20 years with a 5 percent interest rate.  For a capital project for water, they concluded that with no impact fee, the annual debt service would be $715,000 with a rate increase of 5.6 percent.  With impact fees, the annual debt service would be $420,000 with a rate increase of 3.3 percent.    The necessary rate increase for a $10 million wastewater capital project would be 6.1 percent without impact fees and 2.9 percent with impact fees.

Coleman provided additional information regarding sewer line capacity.  As sewer lines reach capacity, the city’s funding options are: 

  1. Tell the developer that city sewer service is not available;
  2. Enact a rate increase to get a CIP done quickly;
  3. Create additional impact fee lines along with a rate increase;  
  4. Use a combination of impact fees and a rate increase. 

Coleman said having sewer overflows is not an option. Staff recommended implementing water/wastewater impact fees at $400 each, and zeroing-out the five existing impact fees.  The Planning and Zoning Commission has recommended implementing impact fees at zero each, which would preserve the ability to enact fees for five years.  They also recommended keeping the existing impact fee lines as they are. This presentation was for informational purposes only and council took no action.  

Future Workshop Items
• Councilmember Jess Fields requested a workshop item regarding the city facilitating community involvement in non-profit organizations.  Council consensus was to go forward. 
• Fields also requested a workshop item to consider placing non-binding referenda on the May ballot. Examples could be the convention center, city-owned property, the city hall project and the Starlight Music Series continuing at the same level of funding.  There was no consensus
• Councilmember Fields requested an item be placed on the May ballot de-authorizing the 2003 bond to build city hall.  There was no consensus.  Fields then requested an item to put on the May ballot the city hall proposal.  Again, there was no consensus
• Mayor Nancy Berry requested an item to discuss the disposal of city property.  Council consensus was to go forward.  

City Manager and City Attorney Appointments
Council emerged from executive session and concluded the workshop by unanimously announcing the appointment of David Neeley as city manager and Carla Robinson as city attorney. Both had been serving in those positions on an interim basis.

Regular Meeting Highlights

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously to approve all but one consent agenda item, and that item passed by a 5-2 vote. This is not a complete list. Click here to view all the consent items.

  • Called a special election on May 14 to recall the mayor and two other council members;
  • Read the franchise agreement amendment with Brazos Valley Recycling to add the collection of food waste for recycling, multifamily apartments and commercial businesses to its agreement; 
  • Approved a contract with Siemens Industry, Inc., in the amount of $66,740 for city hall building security. The approved FY11 budget already includes $60,000 for this purpose. A staff committee has been reviewing security needs to identify ways to ensure the protection and safety of citizens and employees. The contract includes installation of four interior and four exterior cameras, a monitor with remote view capacity, and programmable card readers to control building access. This is likely the first phase in security improvements.
  • Approved a resolution to hold the second public hearing for potential system capacity impact fees for water and wastewater. As required by state law, this resolution approves April 14 for the public hearing and for the hearing to be properly noticed in the local newspaper.
  • Approved the annual traffic contact report, which is required by state law. The CSPD employs an independent consultant to analyze traffic stop data for this report. This year’s report finds no significant anomalies regarding racial profiling and indicates the CSPD is in compliance with state law.

One consent item was not passed unanimously:

  • Approved the Semi-Annual Report on Impact Fees, which was provided to council in accordance with state law. The city has five impact fee areas where all associated utility construction is complete. Voting against were Jess Fields and Jana McMillan.

Regular Agenda

Budget Amendment No. 1
The council approved the budget amendment is to increase appropriations in FY 11 by a total of $3,187,407. The items covered are listed in detail on pages 79-80 of the meeting packet. At the request of Councilmember Jess Fields, the council considered each item in the amendment individually. It unanimously approved all but the following items:

Sanitary Sewer Lift Station (Scott and White) – $2,000,000 ($1,500,000 Budget Amendment in Wastewater and $500,000 Budget Amendment in Economic Development Fund): The proposed Scott & White Hospital, located at the southeast corner of North State Highway 6 and Rock Prairie Road, will need sewer service by June 2012. A development agreement approved by Council on Nov. 22, 2010 included a plan for the construction of a new lift station that will provide sewer service to the proposed Scott & White Hospital. The estimated total cost for this project (design and construction) is $1,500,000. Funds for this project will come from several sources: $500,000 will come from the Wastewater Capital Improvement Projects Fund, $500,000 will come from the Economic Development Fund, $250,000 will be the cash contribution from Scott and White, and $250,000 will come from Scott and White in the form of a land donation for a future water tower. The land being donated is valued at $250,000 and will offset a future necessary land purchase by the Water Fund.

This budget amendment item will appropriate $1,500,000 to the Wastewater Fund for the design and construction of this project. Current and forecasted wastewater utility rates do not support the addition of the project without a corresponding rate increase. Therefore, construction on the South Knoll/The Glade Rehabilitation project will be deferred until the potential budget shortfall can be addressed. The item will also appropriate $500,000 to the Economic Development Fund for transfer to the Wastewater Fund. The cash and land donation from Scott and White will be received once the project is complete and proceeds will be credited to the Wastewater Fund.

VOTE: This item passed by a 6-1 vote. Voting against was Jess Fields.

Encumbrance Roll – $1,125,407 (Budget Amendment): Several expenditures were not completed in FY2010 due to timing issues. These purchases were budgeted and encumbered in FY2010, but were not received until FY2011. The General Fund purchases include $129,735 in Educational Channel 19, software/hardware, and grant purchases. Other funds include:

  • $245,539 for the Medical Corridor study
  • $187,466 for ARRA grant construction
  • $365,270 in parking garage expenditures
  • $104,876 in equipment replacement expenditures
  • Various other purchases totaling $92,521.

The encumbrance roll increases the budget appropriation in each of the appropriate funds.

VOTE: This item passed by a 5-2 vote. Voting against were Jess Fields and Jana McMillan.

Transfer positions, revenue budgets and expenditure budgets from the general fund and Xtra Education fund to the recreation fund resulting in $0 impact to the total city appropriations (inter-fund transfers): This item completes the transfer of FTEs, revenue budgets and expenditure budgets for Phase II of the creation of the Recreation Fund. The Recreation Fund will be used to monitor the fees and expenditures associated with several programs within the Parks and Recreation Department.

VOTE: This item passed by a 5-2 vote. Voting against were Jess Fields and Jana McMillan.

Soliciting Bids for Victoria Avenue Improvements
The Victoria Avenue roadway extension will improve circulation around the new high school, which is scheduled to open in August 2012. The roadway section will have two travel sections, a continuous two-way center turn lane, bike lanes and sidewalks. The project also includes a water line extension, sanitary sewer line improvements, storm drainage and street lighting. A total of $2,455,000 is budgeted as part of the 2008 General Obligation Bond funds. The design is complete and staff is seeking permission from council to solicit construction bids.

VOTE: The council unanimously voted (7-0) to proceed with an advertisement to solicit construction bids for the construction of Victoria Avenue, without a paving assessment, from its current terminus to SH 40 (William D. Fitch Parkway). 

Links:

Video Archive of Council Meetings

Council Agendas and Minutes
(official minutes of Thursday’s meetings will be available in two weeks)

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