Live Blog: Thursday’s City Council Meetings (Dec. 8)
The council meeting was adjourned. Replays of the entire workshop and regular meetings are available at cstx.gov/cstv19.
Sunset Commission Appointments
The council unanimously approved a motion to appoint Ann Marsh, Kay Parker, and Betty Trost to the Sunset Advisory Commission, which serves as an advisory board to the council on whether certain city boards, commissions or committees continue to serve a public need.
Municipal Cemetery System Prices
The council unanimously approved new prices for cemetery spaces in the College Station Municipal Cemetery System. After reviewing the history of the fee schedule for the cemeteries, staff recommended a price structure that results in an average increase of 10 percent. The new prices will be effective on Jan. 1. The prices were last increased in September 2009.
Super Freeport Ordinance
After a public hearing, the council voted 6-1 to approve an ordinance declaring certain goods-in-transit to be subject to city taxes under the Super Freeport exemption in the Texas Tax Code. Council member Jess Fields voted against the motion. The Texas Legislature recently created a property tax exemption for certain inventory temporarily stored in warehouses within a city while awaiting shipment. The Super Freeport exemption is a local option tax exemption of the “opt out” variety, which means the exemption automatically applies unless a city takes two actions by Dec. 31:
(1) holds a public hearing
(2) adopts an ordinance to continue taxing super Freeport goods.
If a city elects to opt-out, it can later rescind the action and extend the exemption. This exemption is similar to the Freeport exemption that exempts goods held temporarily in warehouses in a city that are shipped outside of the State of Texas. The City of College Station has had the Freeport exemption in place since 1990. Adoption of the ordinance preserves the council’s option to tax or not tax the property. The Freeport exemption resulted in exempting $8.25 million in property in 2012, which equals about $36,000.
Here’s the PowerPoint presentation the council received:
Graz and Vienna On-Street Parking Removal
After a lengthy public hearing, the council unanimously voted to table a proposal to remove parking along sections of Graz, Vienna, and Arnold streets in the Edelweiss subdivision. The item was presented at the request of the Edelweiss Homeowners Association. Parking on both sides of these streets makes it difficult for typical passenger vehicles and likely impossible for emergency vehicles. City staff has worked with the homeowners association to develop a plan to address the concerns without creating sight distance restrictions. Council asked staff to bring the item back after additional study.
Gilchrist Avenue On-Street Parking Removal
After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved the removal of parking along the south side of Gilchrist Avenue, the west side of a section of Ashburn Avenue, and within 30 feet of the intersections of Gilchrist with Ashburn and Marsteller Avenue. An issue had been created by parents parking on Gilchrist and walking their kids to College Hills Elementary School instead of waiting in the drop-off line on Francis Drive. The College Station Independent School District requested that the city evaluate and address the situation. The parking removal plan was developed with the input of neighborhood residents.
Rezoning for Property at 300 Texas Ave. South
After a public hearing, the council unanimously approved the rezoning of almost two acres at 300 Texas Avenue South for the construction of a four-to-six story hotel, which would be compatible with nearby hotel and restaurant uses and provide additional opportunities for visitors to stay close to key destinations.
Here’s the PowerPoint presentation presented to the council:
Adoption of Latest Construction Codes
After a public hearing, the council voted 6-1 to change the city’s Code of Ordinances to reflect the 2012 International Building Code, 2011 National Electrical Code, 2012 International Fire Code and 2012 Life Safety Code. Council Member Jess Fields voted against the motion. The Construction Board of Adjustment and Appeals considered the codes at a series of public meetings during October and November and recommended approval. The International Code Council and National Fire Protection Association issues updated codes every three years. The changes included in the latest codes help clarify intent, improve energy efficiency and strengthen requirements designed to safeguard the public health, safety and general welfare.
Here’s the PowerPoint presentations presented to the council:
The council unanimously approved all the consent agenda items except (q), which was approved by a 5-1 vote, and (r), which was approved by a 6-1 vote. Council Member Jess Fields voting against both items, and Council Member Brick recused herself from voting on item (q). Item (q) was a proposal to bring an annual National Junior College Athletic Association football bowl game to college station in December 2012. The city will provide $25,000 in Hotel Occupancy Tax funds to support the game, contingent upon the game actually taking place. Item (r) concerned the lease agreement between the city and the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau. The CVB leases the city-owned building at 715 University Dr. East in the Chimney Hill Shopping Center.
To see a list of all the consent agenda items, click here.
The regular meeting has started.
The workshop meeting has been adjourned, and the council has going into executive session. The live blog will resume when the regular meeting begins at 7 p.m.
2012 Health Plan Claims Expenditures
The council received an overview of the benefits plan for city employees. The City of College Station’s health plan is self-insured, which has been shown to be cost effective. The health insurance program is administered by Blue Cross Blue Shield, which provides the advantage of having a network provider. Being self-insured, the city also purchases stop loss (reinsurance) to limit the risk of the costs of high dollar claims. Projected costs for the 2012 plan year are based on a monthly average of 840 employees, retirees and COBRA participants on the plan. This represents a monthly cost of about $807 per employee. Claims projections include a 9 percent increase over 2011, which trends with the national average. Administrative fees for health insurance are almost 3 percent higher than 2011.
CVB Audit Progress Report
The council received an update by the Bryan-College Station Convention and Visitors Bureau (CVB) on the progress made since the recent CVB audit conducted by the city’s internal auditor. Since the city council accepted the audit report in November, numerous changes were implemented within the CVB, including adoption of an employee handbook and redefined economic development impact reporting.
The workshop meeting has started.