City Council Meeting Summary (March 10, 2011)

This blog is a short summary of the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on Thursday, March 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

New BVSWMA, Inc. Executive Director
By a unanimous vote (7-0), the council approved Bryan Griesbach as Executive Director of BVSWMA, Inc., and he introduced himself to the council.  He reported that the new landfill site east of College Station has been highlighted in the American Public Works Association magazine, noting that the site is the only LEED certified landfill in the U.S.  Griesbach said the new facility will be opening soon, possibly within the next 60-90 days.  He has been in the profession for 21 years and said the new landfill facility is the finest he has ever seen.

System Capacity Impact Fees on Water/Wastewater
The city council received an informational presentation regarding the economics of the possible implementation of “system capacity” impact fees for Water and Wastewater. Dr. Jim Gaines of the Texas A&M Real Estate Center provided a brief summary on the health of the local economy, followed by a question and answer session with the council.

Council directed staff to begin looking into these impact fees last year. Here’s how the fees would work: when a building permit is pulled, the builder would pay a fee to compensate the city for the expansion of the water and wastewater systems the new development needs. The fees would ultimately be paid by the new home buyer, which would mitigate any rate increases paid by other residents since the cost of the capital improvements would be removed from the rate structure.

Water Services Director David Coleman said the maximum fees considered for water is $1,480 and for wastewater is $1,578.  Staff’s policy recommendation is to implement water/wastewater impact fees at $400 each and zero out the five existing impact fees on specific lines.  Impact fees will directly affect the city’s ability to support future development.  Wastewater is nearing capacity, and staff is considering a joint meeting with Planning and Zoning to review the wastewater master plan.  On April 28, the council will have the second and final public hearing and will consider adoption of impact fees.

Chief Financial Officer Jeff Kersten presented some assumptions regarding impact fees.  Assumptions include the city collecting impact fees for five years, using an example of a capital project of $10 million and considering various funding sources.  Assuming the issuance of a 20-year debt, he showed what the impact is with and without an impact fee.  No water impact fees would result in a rate increase of 5.6 percent. A water impact fee could result in a rate increase of 3.3 percent.  He also reviewed what impact different fees would have, pointing out that a lower fee of $150 still needs a 5.4 percent increase and the higher fee of $400 results in a 5 percent rate increase.  Wastewater impact fees could result in a rate increase of 6.1 percent for no fee and 5.3 percent for a $400 fee.

Dr. Gaines reported that the Bryan/College Station area is doing well and that College Station grew 38 percent in the last census period. He said single-family building permits have been up and down during certain periods and for the most part, the fall off has not been as pronounced as other areas of the state. The value of permits since 1994 is $122,000 per dwelling unit on average.  Looking at the 2009 breakdown of the average household income in the community — assuming a 10 percent down payment, a 5 percent fixed rate and other variables – 42 percent of households in the area cannot afford to pay more than $75,000 for a home. Based on these assumptions, another 22 percent cannot afford to pay more than $125,000, and 64 percent cannot afford to pay more than $125,000. For every $1,000 increase in home values, more families cannot afford a home, with a lesser impact on lower-income homes than upper-income homes.  Gaines said with material costs rising, interest rates are likely to increase in time and the median home price is extremely important. The area has had continuously increasing median home prices as compared to other areas of the state and is running 6-7 percent below trend.

Regular Meeting Highlights

Consent Agenda

The council voted unanimously (7-0) to approve all seven consent agenda items, which are generally regarded as “housekeeping” items. Click here to view all the consent items.

Brazos Animal Shelter Contract
The council voted 5-2 to approve a new contract with the Brazos Animal Shelter. This long-term contract includes provisions to calculate costs off a cost-per-animal model that will be negotiated on a yearly basis, and allows for an auditing mechanism for verification and transparency purposes. The contract will be re-evaluated on a yearly basis.
VOTE: Voting against approving the contract were Jess Fields and Jana McMillan. 

Citizens Charter Review Advisory Commission
The council appointed 10 people to the Citizens Charter Review Advisory Commission. The commission will review the city charter and recommend changes. The review is expected to be a lengthy process and proposed amendments are not likely to go before voters until May 2012. Appointed to the commission were Brian Bochner, Terry Childers, Chuck Ellison, Patrick Gendron, Paul Greer, Gary Halter, Tony Jones, Jim Maness, Lynn McIlhaney and Buck Prewitt.


Video Archive of Council Meetings

Council Agendas and Minutes

Official minutes of Thursday’s meetings will be available in two weeks.

The next council workshop and regular meeting will be March 24  at city hall.

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