Thursday’s City Council Preview (June 9)

Here’s a quick look at some of the items the College Station City Council will be considering Thursday 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 (3 p.m.)

Community Development Activities
The city council will receive a presentation on the city’s community development activities.  Each year, the city is required to submit to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) a one-year Action Plan describing projects and activities to be funded with received community development grants.  These Action Plan activities must correspond to the five-year Consolidated Plan. Staff is gathering information for the FY 2011 Community Development Action Plan and budget and will present the proposed plan at a future council meeting. The total amount available next year includes $1,029,301 in Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) funds and $631,793 in HOME Investment Partnership Grant (HOME) funds.

CDBG and HOME funds may only be used to benefit low- and moderate-income persons, aid in the elimination of slum and blighting influences, or meet a particular urgent need. Further, CDBG funds may be used to meet local needs through a wide range of community development activities, while HOME funds may only be used for affordable housing activities. Historically, the city has used these funds for a variety of programs and activities, including affordable housing programs (homebuyer assistance, security deposit assistance, rehabilitation, new construction, minor repairs), funding of direct services to low-income families, and improvements to parks, streets, infrastructure and public facilities in low-income areas. To date, the city has received more than $41 million in federal community development resources under HUD’s Community Development Block Grant (CDBG), HOME Investment Partnership (HOME), HOPE, and CDBG-R programs.

Eastgate Neighborhood Plan
The council will receive an update on the Eastgate Neighborhood Plan, which is a component of the College Station Comprehensive Plan. It began approximately nine months ago and is being finalized. This is the second neighborhood planning effort since the adoption of the Comprehensive Plan in 2009. The Central College Station Neighborhood Plan was adopted last summer for the Southwood Valley and Edelweiss Estates areas. The Eastgate Plan process has included an intensive citizen engagement effort starting with a neighborhood-wide kick-off meeting in September and an issues and opportunities meeting in October. A Neighborhood Resource Team, composed of area residents and property owners, also was formed and has provided additional guidance on the plan’s goals, strategies and actions. Two open houses were held in late April to obtain neighborhood feedback. Through these efforts, staff has worked with the neighborhood to develop a plan to address community character, land use, neighborhood integrity, mobility and sustainability.

Regular Meeting (7 p.m.)

Service Disconnect Agreement with Wellborn SUD
The council will consider an agreement with the Wellborn Special Utility District to disconnect service for non-payment issues. In several new developments, Wellborn SUD provides the water service and the City of College Station provides sewer service.  These customers are billed separately by the two service providers, which can create a problem in the event of non-payment of the city’s sewer bills.  It is not feasible to disconnect sewer service, leaving the city no practical means to enforce payment requirements. Wellborn SUD has agreed to assist the city in this situation, and the proposed agreement will allow the city to request that Wellborn SUD disconnect a customer’s water service until that customer becomes fully paid on their sewer bill. The city will pay a reasonable $50 service fee for these disconnects. The agreement has been written to comply with state law, ensuring that service disconnects will not be done if a serious health issue would result.

The Wellborn SUD board approved a prior version of this agreement, but the city subsequently had to change the Indemnification clause. If the agreement is approved by the city council and the WSUD board, staff will return to a future council meeting to request a modification to the utility rate ordinance to recoup the $50 service fee paid to WSUD.  Current city policy requires the disconnected customer pay all disconnection costs, so the $50 fee from WSUD should also be passed along to that customer.

COPS Hiring Recovery Program Grant
Council will consider the College Station Police Department’s application and acceptance of a 2011 COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) Grant from the U.S. Department of Justice. In 2009, the Office of Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) announced the availability of funding under the COPS Hiring Recovery Program (CHRP) to address the personnel needs of state, local and tribal law enforcement. The College Station Police Department will be applying to fund six full-time entry level police officers identified as staffing needs.

Grant funding will only be provided for current entry-level salary and benefits, while associated costs will be the responsibility of the grantee agency. CHRP grants provide 100 percent funding for approved entry-level salaries and benefits for three years for newly-hired, full-time sworn officer positions. When federal funding ends, grantees must retain the positions awarded under the grant for at least 12 months after the funding expires. The retained CHRP-funded position(s) should be added to the grantees law enforcement budget with local funds, over and above the number of locally-funded positions that would have existed in the absence of the grant.

Watch the Meetings Live on Ch. 19
The workshop and regular meetings can be seen live on Suddenlink Ch. 19, or online. Previous council meetings are archived on the site.

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