City council takes “no action” in public works personnel matters

Image: Mayor James Hobbs presents Charles Hyles with IYAA Volunteer of the Year Award.

Mayor James Hobbs presents Charles Hyles with IYAA Volunteer of the Year Award. (Alysa Kirton)

The Italy City Council took “no action” following a 40-minute executive session regarding personnel matters relating to the public works department Monday evening in council chambers.

The council adjourned into executive session at 8:15 p.m. and returned to open session at 8:55 p.m. when Mayor James Hobbs announced the council was taking “no action.”

Departmental reports

During departmental reports, Chief of Police Diron Hill announced a cleanup day scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26. He said two 20 yard dumpsters and two 40 yard dumpsters will be located by the city water barn from 7 a.m. until 11 a.m. or until they are full. The dumpsters are for local residents only and those dumping must provide a copy of their water bill.

They will not accept hazardous waste, brush or paint. The city will take tires at $1.10 per tire.

Hill invited the public to bring their gloves and join him in the clean-up effort at 8 a.m. that same day. He will gather at the city pavilion and go from there with the clean-up.

For those who have bulk items, Hill said DCI will pick those items up the second Tuesday of the month. The items, however, must be brought to the curb and residents must contact DCI and notify them of the bulk items.

Hill said his department finished the budget year with a 22.8% decrease in crime over the previous year. He said his goal was to decrease crime 25% so he was pleased the department came that close to the goal. He said the officers are working hard to reduce crime in the community.

Dean Carrell, public works director, said his department received 533 work orders during the month of September.

He said the water bond project should be completed within six weeks. He said they are already storing water in the tank and said the taste will improve once everything gets regulated.

Teri Murdock, city secretary/administrator, said the city’s sale tax is up 10.53% over the same time last (calendar) year.

She also reported that TxDOT has installed the “no parking” signs along Dale Evans Drive.

She noted that she would be attending a hazardous mitigation planning session with the Ellis County Office of Emergency Management on Oct. 22 at 2 p.m. She invited any interested council members to take part in this event.

Murdock also noted that she would be advertising for engineering bids for the Community Development Block Grant Program for Rural Texas.

The primary objective of the CDBG program, according to their website, is to develop viable communities by providing decent housing and suitable living environments, and expanding economic opportunities principally for persons of low- to moderate-income.

She said the city has received three applications for new houses.

Citizens Comments

Joan Grabowski was the first of four citizens to address the council. She said the council needed to pass an ordinance setting term limits for the mayor and council. She then complained about the council not discussing items more in depth in open session. She said the budget that was passed for the 2013-2014 fiscal year is ridiculous and said the council is a disgrace.

Karen Mathiowetz thanked Carrell for answering her questions about the letter recently mailed to residents regarding the water system. She said, however, that people like her, who suffer from a serious illness, need to know as soon as possible if there are contaminates in the water.

Charles Hyles, Italy Economic Development Commission member, updated the council on the walking trail at Upchurch Field. He said 2,344’ of concrete has been poured about seven feet wide, 296’ shy of a half-mile. He said there is still more work to be done but said they are nearing completion on the trail. He said he would add signs for walkers. He also noted the project is coming in about $12,000 under budget.

He said, “Hopefully, we are on our way to having a nice city park.”

Jackie Cate Jr. addressed the council about a fire lane in front of the bay doors at the fire station.

He presented the council with pictures of three vehicles parked behind the buildings across from the area in question. He said there should never be a vehicle parked in the alley behind those buildings left unattended. Cate said he understood there was a survey being done but said the priority should be to get the trucks out of the bays in an emergency.

Regular session

Brad Yates addressed the council about the requirement of two additional taps for a sprinkler system at the duplex he just completed at the corner of Poplar and Simms streets. Two additional taps would cost about $5,000 and he was requesting a variance from the council.

Carrell told Yates that if they could get the PSI above 35, then they could possibly bypass the additional taps. Yates was advised to get with Carrell and discuss the matter.

The council asked why this was not addressed when Yates filed the building permit. It was noted that the sprinkler system was a recent addition and was not in the original design plan.

James Johnson, with A Call to Souls Outreach, addressed the council about a community service center on Williams Street, the Kortnei Johnson Youth Center and a health care center.

He requested three letters of recommendation from the mayor, noting that this type of endorsement can expedite federal grants.

Johnson, a lifelong resident of Italy, said he has 34.4 acres of land off Dilworth Street that the owner is holding until January 6, 2014, for the youth complex. Cost for the land is $250,000.

This complex would include a youth building, office, swimming pool, locker rooms, football field, track and parking.

He said the original project was estimated a little over $10 million and said he was seeking donations from all citizens, from philanthropic sources, fundraisers and federal grants.

Johnson said stage I of the project is the purchase of the land, a salary for him as CEO and a vehicle. Estimated cost for that project is $375,000. He said the deadline for this is Jan. 6, 2014. Stage II would be the construction of the stadium by January of 2015.

Johnson also sought letters of recommendation for the community service center on Williams Street and a health care center. He said he would like to put the health care center in the former doctor’s office on Main Street.

Greg Richards made the motion to provide Johnson with letters of recommendation. Bruce Utley seconded the motion which passed unanimously.

In other business, the council approved an ordinance (#13-1014-01) to form a Community Activities Committee to plan and fundraise for the various community activities such as the Christmas festival, Easter egg hunt and Cinco de Mayo. This seven-person volunteer board will begin with the upcoming Christmas festival.

Richards made the motion to form the committee with a second from Rodney Guthrie. The motion passed unanimously.

The council also passed a resolution (#13-1014-01) naming the Waxahachie Daily Light as the city’s official newspaper. The motion was made by Guthrie with a second from Frank Jackson. It passed unanimously.

The council also approved adding four pieces of equipment to the Public Surplus Auction. The items, which Carrell said are all inoperable, include a dump truck, a 1998 Jeep, a Case loader and a 2002 Crown Victoria. The council unanimously approved the request with a motion by Jackson and a second from Richards.

Carrell addressed the council about an additional vehicle for the public works department. He said the department has been using his pickup the last three years and said he can no longer afford to do that.

The council set aside $10,000 for the purchase of equipment but said the department needs a dump truck and various other items.

After a lengthy discussion about equipment, Guthrie made the motion for Murdock to contact Capital Funding to see how much equipment the city can purchase over a three-to-four year period that would include a pickup. The maximum annual payment would be $10,000 per year. Richards seconded the motion which passed unanimously.

The council also approved minutes from the September meeting, bills and earned compensatory time.

IYAA Reception

Prior to the regular meeting, the council began with an IYAA Proclamation Reception in council chambers.

Hobbs named Charles Hyles as IYAA Volunteer of the Year. Hyles recognized and thanked the parent board and coaches and said their work and efforts helped make the IYAA program successful.

Cake and punch was served to IYAA participants and supporters by Becky Boyd, Ronda Cockerham and Clarice Crocker, city staff.