City fills vacancies on various boards

The Italy City Council reinstated the Italy Park Board Monday evening at its monthly meeting held in council chambers. The council filled other vacancies on the Economic Development Board and the Planning and Zoning Board.

The seven-member park board includes Tina Haight, Stephanie Wilson, Jason Escamilla, Bruce Utley, Susan Harris, Shedric Walker and Preston Dixon. Tom Little was named to replace Haight who resigned from the Economic Development Corporation Board. They also appointed Mark Souder Jr. to the Planning and Zoning Board. The council approved all these members unanimously.

The council also approved the placement of a three-way stop at the intersection of Sims and Poplar streets. Residents at a February meeting had made the request. Police patrolled the area but said they saw no issues with speed by motorists. The council approved the stop signs anyway because they are planning to repair the south end of Poplar Street. They concluded that Sims was about mid-way down the length of Poplar Street.

Heath Daniel, director of inspections for the DFW area, briefly outlined the services of Bureau Veritas. This company contracts with cities and municipalities to do building inspections and permits.

Daniel said they currently contract with 105 municipalities in the State of Texas. He said they started working in the larger cities that needed help due to rapid housing development growth. Then, he explained, they saw the need in smaller cities that could not afford a full time building inspector.

Bureau Veritas currently has contracts to inspect military base housing and Cowboys Stadium. Locally, they have contracts with the cities of Ovilla, Red Oak, Maypearl and Grandview.

Daniel said they could be on site within 24 hours of a request. He explained that there are no “retainer fees.” The contractor/homeowner incurs all costs involved.

Teri Murdock, city administrator/secretary, said the city she previously worked with Bureau Veritas. She said the partnership was successful. She said there was opposition at first. As developments came in, they realized the positive aspects of the firm.

Little and Albert Garcia expressed their concern about the costs involved to the property owner for these inspections.

Currently, the building permit fee for a $100,000 house is $350. That fee would increase to more than $900 for the same house with this firm. Daniel said these fees are comparable with other cities in Ellis County.

The council tabled the item until the city could investigate similar firms.

They also tabled an item to update the International Building Codes and National Electric Code.

In other business, Marty Tittle addressed the council regarding the code of conduct for city employees and elected officials. He explained that he had a $2,000 bill from a city employee or elected official that has not been paid and wanted to know how it could be resolved. Although this is not a city bill, Mayor Frank Jackson agreed to meet with Tittle on Tuesday to discuss the matter.

In departmental reports, Chief C.V. Johns reported the police department received 99 calls for service in February. Officers made two felony arrests, seven misdemeanor arrests and seven traffic warrant arrests. Officers worked 740 hours and reserve officers worked 376 hours last month.

Animal Control worked nine calls and issued four citations. The officer worked 14 hours last month.

Thomas Peyton, code enforcement officer, said he worked five complaints and issued citations on four of those complaints.

Public Works Director Brad Chambers said he has seen a recent influx of grease at the sewer plant. He said the influx occurs between 10 pm. and 6 a.m.

Fire Chief Don Chambers said the department worked 27 calls during February. He said they still assist with EMS calls but the length of time at the scene has been drastically reduced.

Chambers also said he was checking into Homeland Security stimulus money that provides 90/10 matching grants for new fire stations. He said specifics on the grants would not be available until April.

Michelle Munoz, municipal court clerk, reported the police department issued 466 citations during February. There are 860 citations pending from 2005 and back.

Murdock said March 9 was the last day to file for a spot on the city council. Unless someone files as a write-in candidate before March 16, she said there would not be a city council election.

She urged all council members to attend the Hobbs Feed Store BBQ cook-off and ribbon cutting on March 14. The event starts at 11 a.m. with the ribbon cutting set for noon.

Jackson said the tennis courts on College Street have been refurbished. He added that the park next door is being updated as well.

He said someone donated playground equipment, picnic tables and barbecue grills. The city and school scheduled May 2 as a workday to put together equipment, plant flowers, paint, etc.

“I would like to see the whole town involved in this project,” Jackson concluded.