Council extends contract 90 days for public works director

The Italy City Council extended the contract for its interim public works director for 90 days with a review to follow at the end of that period. Council members approved the motion unanimously following a lengthy executive session held during a council meeting Monday evening.

In other business, Mayor Frank Jackson said an ambulance from East Texas Emergency Medical Service will be stationed in Italy beginning Nov. 23. He said the East Texas has been installing a work area/living quarters in the upper floor of the fire department.

He said they discovered a leak in the roof and the city has hired Ken Cate to repair the roof. “We didn’t have a choice,” he explained. “It had to be fixed.” He said they tried to get a second bid but did not have the time to wait.

From the public

Albert Garcia and Josh Trees addressed the council about losing a recent bid with the city even though their bid was $109,000 less than the winning bid.

Garcia told the council that he has been a strong supporter of the school and city for many years. He said that he believes in the future of Italy.

He said they lost a contract, according to the engineer, due to “inconsistencies” with their bid. He pointed out that they were cheaper because they had their own gravel pits and they were familiar with the area.

“We passed every saving we could on to the city,” Garcia said. “We could have saved the city a lot of money. The thing is we never got a phone call from the engineer asking us to explain any inconsistencies.”

Trees reiterated his concern about the lack of a phone call from the engineer.

Trees said he was told someone with the city did not want his company doing business with the city due to inadequate work done several years ago. Trees said he did just what the public works director, at that time, told him to do. He said his crew worked on a portion of South Ward Street. Trees said he was not allowed to compact the road material as it should have been due to the utilities underneath the road. He also pointed out that it rained the day he poured the concrete near Main and South Ward streets. The public works director told him to get it done although rain was predicted that day.

“I don’t mind losing a job once in a while,” Trees explained, “but I want to lose it for the right reasons.”

“We would like everyone to know that we’re here and we’re local,” Garcia added.
Council member John Droll said the council should make sure something like this never happens again. He did suggest that they, as bidders, always show up for council meetings when they discuss contracts.

In other business, Javier Gonzalez was not present at the meeting to discuss abandoning a street going through his property at 108 W. Dilworth Street.

Don Chambers, fire chief, said the original plat from Walter Upchurch had several streets going through a proposed subdivision. He said they built ballparks instead of the subdivision. He explained that a water line did go through the easement in question. They tabled the item until the council had further information.

Water Line Grant Project

Chris Metz, current public works director, told the council that the new grant project for 2009-2010 must be turned in to the engineers by mid-November. He said the city had planned on replacing the water line and adding fire hydrants down FM 667. However, there is only enough funding available for 1,300 linear feet of line. He requested, and the council approved, putting in new lines beginning at Venice and College streets. The line will run down Venice with two fire hydrants along the line.

Economic Development Corporation

The City recently increased members on the board from seven to nine. Teri Murdock, city administrator, said the state does not allow more than seven on a board. She explained that two could be ex-officio members.

Murdock said she received a letter of resignation from Nick Kinze who was recently been appointed to the board. With that resignation, only one member would be removed, she pointed out.

Council member Mark Souder Sr., also a member of the EDC, said the board was unaware of the state law when they increased the number from seven to nine.

“My suggestion,” he said, “is to take off one of the last folks that we recently added.”

The council voted to table the issue until after the EDC meeting later this month.

Other business

Murdock requested the city adopt the use of purchase orders. She explained that often time department heads do not know what they have spent until they come to the council meetings. The council approved the proposal, effective immediately.

The council tabled a review of compensatory time until Murdock received overtime for all employees.

The council set a called meeting for Tuesday, Nov. 18, at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the various city ordinances, with four in particular to discuss.

Department reports

Police Chief C.V. Johns said the department received 133 calls during October. He said animal control worked 38 hours and officers worked a total of 1,058 hours. Johns also noted that Vectron Energy Corp donated $1,671 for laptop computers for police vehicles.

Metz said things are going well with the water treatment plant. He said there were two minor problems that were still under warranty. He stressed the importance of a grease ordinance for restaurants in the city.

He explained that he had been in contact with David Bailey who is in charge of the City of Waxahachie water project. He said the City of Waxahachie is expected to increase water rates about eight cents higher than originally projected with a purchase of approximately 300,000 gallons of water a day minimum. He said they need a strip map of the right-of-way easement owned by the City of Italy along Hwy. 77 and an approximately value for that easement.

He also explained that water projects along Park Street and Poplar Street are near completion. Road construction to repair the roads should begin soon He said a site assessment is planned soon for Ridge Street.

Chambers said the fire department responded to 34 calls in October. Firefighters worked 91 hours during the month. He also pointed out that East Texas EMS should have their ambulance stationed in Italy sometime on Nov. 23.

Murdock said this has been a busy two weeks for her and complimented the office staff for the assistance. She has done some reorganization in city hall. She reported that Michelle Munoz has started working 32 hours a week helping the court get caught back up.

The city administrator also said she is taking applications for anyone wishing to serve on the Park Board. Contact Murdock at city hall for further information.