City Council: Thursday Preview

Here’s a quick look at some of the items the College Station City Council will be discussing Thursday (Feb. 24) at its workshop and regular meetings. This blog is not intended as a complete and official agenda.

Click here to see the complete agenda packets.

Workshop Meeting

FY 11 Budget Update
Staff will present a report on an update of the city’s FY 11 Budget and ask council to provide direction. The update includes a status report on key revenue streams.

Concessions and Aquatic Audit Report
The city’s internal auditor will present his reports on Parks and Recreation’s concessions operations and aquatics programs. Both of these areas are revenue generators. The audit found two areas of concern – cash-handling and declining profitability. Parks and Recreation began taking steps to address these issues in November and has corrected its operation methods and policies. The aquatics program is the department’s second-largest revenue generator and also has the largest expenditures and general fund subsidy. The audit identifies several areas of wasteful expenditures, mostly due to the use of part-time seasonal staff when city pools are closed. By discontinuing the off-season staffing of pools, the city could save as much as $250,000.

Regular Meeting

Consent Agenda
This is not a complete list. Click here to view all the consent items.

Citizens’ Charter Review Advisory Commission – The ordinance would authorize accepting member applications through March 9, and the council would consider appointments at the March 10 meeting. A comprehensive review of the city charter is a lengthy process and proposed amendments are not likely to go before voters until May 2012.

Sunset Advisory Commission – The ordinance would authorize the solicitation of member applications for council consideration. The purpose of the commission is to advise the council about whether certain city boards, commissions or committees continue to serve a need.

Economic Development Agreement for Duck Jam – This five-year agreement between the city and GEG Productions would be for presenting title Sponsorship of the annual Duck Jam, which is set for April 28-30 at Wolf Pen Creek. Funds are budgeted through the hotel occupancy tax along with in-kind contributions from the Parks and Recreation department.

Debt Reimbursement for 2008 General Obligation Bond Projects – This resolution would reimburse certain expenditures with proceeds from debt. For a number of projects authorized as part of the 2008 General Obligation Bond package, all or part of the authorized debt has not yet been issued. On projects for which spending will occur in advance of the debt issue, a “Resolution Declaring Intention to Reimburse Certain Expenditures with Proceeds from Debt” must be approved by council. The debt this resolution would cover is expected to be issued in FY11 and FY12. Projects covered are the East District Maintenance Shop replacement, Lick Creek Nature Center, neighborhood park improvements, neighborhood park revolving fund, Lick Creek Hike and Bike Trail, Barron Road East/Lakeway and traffic signals.

Proposed Fair Housing Ordinance Changes – Council will consider changes to the city’s Fair Housing Ordinance so that it matches federal and state Fair Housing Acts. The key changes would add familial status as a protected class, add disability as a protected class, and add language to support nondiscriminatory practices of these protected classes. These changes were first introduced to the council on Feb. 10.

Texas Department of Transportation Reimbursement – This resolution would reimburse the Texas Department of Transportation for the costs for the Texas Avenue project ($99,246.51) and the Wellborn widening project ($235,391.37). The reimbursement request totals $334,637.88. The contract dates back to 1998 and required TxDOT to pay 10 percent of the right-of-way costs for the Texas Avenue project from Dominik Drive to FM 2818. This project is complete and the final amount due is $99,246.51. Previous payments on the right-of-way related to this project were $496,714.50, for a total of $595,961.01. In 2004, the city entered into a contract with TxDOT to pay for 10 percent of the right-of-way costs for widening Wellborn road from FM 2818 to SH 40. This project is not complete but a partial reimbursement has been requested in the amount of $235,391.37. When the project is finished, a final request for reimbursement will be submitted. The total current reimbursement request from TXDOT is $334,637.88, and funds for these reimbursements were included in the FY11 Streets Capital Improvement Project Fund. The budget for the reimbursements was transferred from the balance of the Texas Avenue Streetscaping project, which was completed under budget.

Regular Agenda

Bicycle, Pedestrian, and Greenways Master Plan
The council will receive the first annual review of the Bicycle, Pedestrian and Greenways Master Plan, which is a component of the Comprehensive Plan adopted in 2010. The purpose of the review is to update the council on significant actions and accomplishments, outline steps being taken to implement and maintain a dynamic document, and identify obstacles or problems in the implementation of the master plan. This process will be repeated annually until the five-year update of the plan.

Mobile Food Vendors
Staff will discuss mobile food vendors as part of the continuing efforts to modernize city regulations. Current ordinances limit vendors to no more than 21 days of operation in a year, which the council feels is too restrictive to accommodate the recent popular trend of mobile food vendors. The proposal seeks to increase opportunities to these vendors while protecting the community’s health and safety as well as investments by existing food establishments.

The revised ordinance would permit mobile food vendors to operate in commercial areas of the city if their products are prepared in an inspected food establishment anywhere in Brazos County, not just in College Station. Other requirements include verification of inspection by the Brazos County Health Department, maintaining a minimum distance from existing restaurants and time limits vendors may remain stationary. In the case of Northgate, it will require mobile vendors to shut down by 2 a.m.

Arts Council of Brazos Valley
The council will consider the purchase agreement and use agreement for the Arts Council building on Dartmouth Drive. The city has been negotiating this purchase with the Arts Council of Brazos Valley for the last couple of years. The city already owns the land and after the purchase is complete, the Arts Council will lease the building from the city for a three-year period. The city will have the option to extend that lease by two years. Staff believes this is a sound long-term investment because the city will be able to integrate the property into the Wolf Pen Creek District, and the Arts Council will have the building mortgage paid off. The pay off on the mortgage as of March 1, 2011 is $508,495.26.

The council also will receive a presentation on the operations and maintenance agreements between the city and the Arts Council for the remainder of this fiscal year, which ends in September. These agreements are for a little more than $78,000, which includes $50,000 from the general fund and the rest from the hotel tax fund. The amount included in these agreements has been reduced by $31,275 because building-related costs have been removed as a result of the city taking ownership of the building.

3 thoughts on “City Council: Thursday Preview

  1. As the city is using bed tax dollars to help pay for Duck Jam, could you give me some information, please? How many hotel rooms does this great event generate? What is the economic impact Duck Jam has on our city for the weekend?

    I’d like to have the same information for WorldFest – I understand bed tax dollars are also used to pay for this other great event….what is the city’s ROI on the monies they spend?

    Thanks so much!

    1. Thanks for the question, Linda!

      The 2010 Duck Jam was a highly-successful event with more than 12,000 tickets sold over two days, including 35 percent from outside a 50-mile radius. According to the promoter, this resulted in an estimated 3,200 room nights. That translates into $320,000 in room rates and $48,000 in hotel occupancy taxes. College Station received $22,400 in tax revenue.

      In addition to hotel rooms, the event generated at least $256,000 in sales for gasoline, food, souvenirs, etc., and more than $75,000 was donated to charities. The total economic impact to College Station is estimated to be $576,000 in outside dollars, including taxes.

      Duck Jam has become one of College Station’s most successful special events, and the city is proud to be the presenting title sponsor.

      Thanks again for the question!

    2. Linda,
      The WorldFest organizers have not done an economic impact evaluation, but they did do an exit survey the day of the festival. The event attracted 6,000-7,000 attendees, including 15 percent from outside the Brazos Valley. It produced an estimated 130 hotel nights.

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