City Council Meeting Summary (August 25)

This blog is a summary of the College Station City Council’s workshop and regular meetings on August 25 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

Click here to watch the entire workshop meeting. Click on individual agenda items listed beneath the video window to view a specific segment.

Proposed FY 2012 Budget
The city council voted unanimously (7-0) to reduce its own budget by $14,000, cutting professional services and travel to Texas Municipal League and National League of Cities conferences for FY 2012. Staff summarized the 12 hours of budget workshops conducted in mid-August.  Among the revisions the council directed was moving $100,000 for the Arts Council affiliates from the General Fund to the Hotel Tax Fund, and adding $35,000 to the General Fund to cover the costs of the special election in November. The council also asked for additional information about Research Valley Partnership Funding and the allocation of Hotel Occupancy Tax funds. A public budget hearing is scheduled for Sept. 8, with final adoption set for Sept. 22.

Northgate Operations, Parking
The council voted (7-0) unanimously to accept staff’s recommendations regarding Northgate District Operations and the Northgate Parking Enterprise Fund, including deferring discussions of privatization until asset improvements have been made and cash flow reporting is consistent.  Other recommendations include developing multi-year capital improvements for assets, discussing with stakeholders the potential to manage the district as an Improvements District, exploring options other than the General Fund to cover non-parking district expenditures, maintaining garage and surface lot rates, and making street meters free between 5-7 p.m., except on game days when rates will be at regular level.

Convention and Visitors Bureau Audit
The council voted unanimously (7-0) to accept an audit of the Bryan/College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau by City Auditor Ty Elliott. Elliott recommended that the CVB not use city hotel occupancy tax funds to hire consultants to influence city policy decisions, that the CVB update its performance measures and increase efforts to collect reliable and accurate data, that management develop more comprehensive written policies and procedures, and that employees be required to submit adequate documentation of purchases and expenses.

Regular Meeting Highlights
Click here to watch the entire regular meeting. Click on individual agenda items listed beneath the video window to view a specific segment.

Consent Agenda
The council unanimously approved (7-0) all the consent agenda items, except two that were removed by city staff (2h and 2i). This is not a complete list of all the consent items, so click here to view the complete list.

Landfill Gas Purchase Agreement
The council approved a 25-year Landfill Gas Purchase Agreement with the Brazos Valley Solid Waste Management Agency in partnership with the City of Bryan to use gas from the recently-closed Rock Prairie Landfill for producing electricity. The gas would be metered from the existing gas collection system and would be used as fuel for a future electric generating facility located on the site.

Tauber-Stasney Parking Removal
The council approved an ordinance removing parking from Tauber and Stasney streets as part of the area’s rehabilitation project. Although parking spaces are being removed, the plan actually increases available public parking in Northgate since the new on-street parallel parking spaces are completely in the right-of-way for public use. The on-street parking plan was designed to ensure adequate space exists along each street for emergency vehicle access. The plan also is consistent with agreements reached with the Northgate District Association regarding the University Drive Pedestrian Safety Project. Parking will be removed from the west side of Tauber and Stasney streets between University and Church, on the east side of Stasney between Church and Cherry, and the west side of Tauber between Cross and Cherry.

Regular Agenda

Budget Amendment No. 3
The council voted 6-1 to approve Budget Amendment No. 3, which amend the FY 2010-2011 budget in the amount of $7,699,757. Council Member Karl Mooney voted against the amendment. Item No. 12 within the amendment was considered separately and was approved by a 6-1 vote. Council Member Jess Fields voted against it. Item No. 12 amended the Scott & White Economic Development Agreement by transferring $77,386 from the Economic Development Fund to pay part of the cost of burying the existing overhead electrical lines.  Scott & White Healthcare agreed to pay for all materials and labor to bury the existing overhead electrical lines, estimated at $809,567, and the city agreed to pay for the bore underneath State Highway 6. The city charter allows the council to amend the annual budget when revenues are available to cover increased expenditures.

Good News on COs and GOBs
The council approved unanimously (7-0) the issuance of certificates of obligation for $7.9 million for electric and wastewater improvements and general obligation bonds for $1.9 million. The city received near-record low interest rates on the sale of the bonds. The city issues debt to fund various capital projects identified and approved as a part of the annual budget.  General Obligation Bonds are paid primarily through the debt service portion of the property tax rate and are authorized by voters. Utility Revenue Bonds are backed by the revenues of the city’s utilities and are issued as a business activity. These are typically only issued for utility capital projects. Certificates of Obligation normally include at least one additional revenue stream, such as utility revenues, but are considered to be much like general obligation bonds and normally receive a similar rating. Voters approved almost $77 million in the 2008 bond election, and this is the third bond sale from that authorization, which provides for a seven-year capital plan.

 The council also received good news on the city’s bond ratings issued by Standard and Poor’s and Moody’s.  The AA/Stable rating by S&P cited the city’s strong financial practices and position, while Moody’s strong Aa2 rating was based in part on the city’s history of satisfactory financial operations. The primary factor preventing the city from attaining the highest rating from the agencies are relatively low income levels attributed to the large student population.

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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