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City Council Meetings, December 2014

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    Posted: Dec 23 2014 at 7:53pm

City Council Meetings

 December 18, 2014



At noon, the council convened a special “called” session, meeting jointly with the County Commissioners.  The sole matter for consideration was how to ensure that citizens had continued access to ambulance service. 


Both the city and county signed a contract with Heart of Texas Ambulance Service in 2013.  Earlier this month, they were notified by HOT that … because their losses were unsustainable … HOT would have to terminate the contract unless they were furnished a subsidy of $180,000.    


HOT’s contract calls for and they have agreed to continue to provide service through April 18 (120 days) while the city and county explore options to provide funding for the subsidy or contract with another company. 


After much discussion, a motion was made and passed that the city pay for half the amount requested by pulling the monies from city reserves … $17,000 a month on a month-to-month basis … until a permanent funding source could be found; but that payment is contingent on the county being able to contribute an equal amount. 


After county commissioners agreed to discuss options at their regular meeting on Monday, 12/22, both bodies adjourned their meetings. 


At 6:00 p.m., the city council again convened, this time for their regular meeting.  Normally, the first order of business is a period set aside for visitors (citizens) to talk to council members about any topic that isn’t listed on the agenda. 


At this meeting, however, the first agenda item scheduled for action was approval of the consent agenda. Council members approved all items listed, including a $1,963.00 invoice from Geoffrey Gay (consultant attorney) for participating in the executive session teleconference on November 20.


Then visitors were invited to address the council and four citizens did so: 

  1. Craig Allen informed council members that a petition will be circulated to put two questions on the May 2015 ballot, giving citizens the choice to decide whether or not they want to (a) limit city electricity charges to no more that 14¢ per kilowatt hour and (b) sell the city’s electrical distribution system;
  2. LeMoine Knox shared with council members information she garnered while attending West Texas Energy Consortium oil and gas briefing last week in Austin;
  3. Benny Kirtley spoke of problems he’d encountered when requesting action on enforcement of nuisance laws and requested clarification of those laws; and asked about guidelines for licensing businesses in residential zones;  
  4. Nancy Emmert requested that the agenda for January 2015 include discussion of a proposal that, in general elections, only citizens who live within the boundaries of a ward be allowed to vote for candidates running to represent that ward on city council.  A motion was made, seconded and passed to place that discussion on the agenda. 


Presidents of each of the city’s economic development corporations, Drew Hubbard from 4-A’s CEDC and Joe Haynes from 4-B’s CCC, asked council members to approve decisions of his board of directors.  The council passed a motion that approved both the hiring of their new joint executive director and her employment contract, contingent on results of both a physical examination and drug test.  The new ED, Kim Little, will begin work February 1 of 2015.


Charles Keith of Jacobs & Martin Engineering walked council members through information gleaned from usage of their new surveying scanner at Lake Coleman.  Unfortunately, it was of little help in resolving the dispute that has arisen between home owners at the lake.  The council passed a motion empowering two council members, Needham and Payne, to meet with lake property owners in an effort to set dock construction guidelines and report back to the full council. 


Since there had been a noon meeting concerning ambulance service, the only action taken on this agenda item was a direction by council members to the city manager to put discussion of that service on the January agenda.  


At their July 17 meeting, council members voted to change the personnel policy.  Only after implementing the new policy was it discovered that employees were being paid at a reduced rate for overtime and holidays.  The city manager was directed to craft wording necessary to reverse the changes and ensure that employees received retroactive payments to which they’re entitled. 


Only one bid was received in response to the request for proposals to audit the city’s electricity bills and franchise fees that had been published on November 17.  TriStem, a company located in Waco, will examine billings from and payments to AEPEP in light of contract terms and arrange for repayment to the city of any overcharges discovered.  TriStem charges 49% of all monies recovered, but charges no fee if there is no recovery.  The same percentage recovery fee will apply for a review of the city’s franchise fees.  After hearing the company’s owner, Joe Seeber, explain how his company works and the procedures it follows, a motion was made and passed to enter into a contract with TriStem … pending completion of a review of TriStem’s one-page contract by Coleman’s city attorney. 


After approving a second reading of amendments to the city’s drought contingency plan, council members reviewed a memo from the city manager.  His estimation of the financial impact on city coffers if the per kilowatt hour charge were reduced to 14¢ was that the city would lose 1.2 million dollars in the remaining months of the fiscal year.  Further discussion of the electricity rate was tabled and the first reading of Ordinance #1153, increasing garbage rates by an additional 20¢ per month, was approved. 


Council members reviewed the proposed lease agreement between the city and Coleman County Shooting Sports.  There was some discussion regarding use of the 124.35 acres and the contract language, but the lease agreement was approved with the recommended changes.


Re-appointments of members to two boards were approved:  (1) Mona Turner and Bridget Wakefield to the Library Board and (2) Roy Poage to 4-A EDC. 


Michael Thompson, a citizen who lives on San Saba, spoke to council members about what he considered non-responsive or slow responses by the Police Department; and the council heard a rebuttal by Chief Moses.  No action was taken on this agenda item. 


The city had received a request from a company named RB3 asking that the city assign to them, as successors, the pole attachment agreement into which the city had entered with an arm of Charter Communications on December 19, 2005.    The council voted to empower the mayor to sign the document pending a favorable review by the city attorney. 


Because some citizens have complained about the length of council meetings, a discussion of the advisability of continuing to hold only one meeting a month was discussed.  The number of times each month the council will meet is governed by §2.11 of the city’s charter.  It says: 

 “The City Council shall hold two (2) regular meetings in each month, at a time to be fixed by it for such regular meetings.  Such time shall be designated by motion, ordinance or resolution, which action shall be published at least one (1) time in the official newspaper of the City.  The City Council may, at its own election, convene for only one (1) regular meeting in any month should circumstances warrant.  The City Council may hold as many additional called meetings during any month as may be necessary for transaction of the business of the city and its citizens.”

and no section of the city’s charter can be changed or amended except by vote of the citizens at a general election. 


At a council meeting on October 18, 2012, a motion was passed to “change from two meetings a month to meeting once a month on the third Thursday of the month starting on November 15 [2012], with the option to return to two meetings a month if necessary”. 


A lively discussion ensued between citizens who contended that the continued practice of holding only one meeting a month is a violation of the city’s Charter.  Both the city manager and city attorney disagreed.  Citizens argued that “shall” means “must”, their opponents argued that “shall” only means “must” until the council decides that it doesn’t.   Council members voted to table action, but to include the item on January’s agenda.


The city manager, citing §2.09 of the Charter, asked the council to appoint Barbara Hubbard as an assistant to the City Secretary, Karen Langley.  The council did so.


The council approved the city manager’s financial report for the month of November 2014.  It included a cash balance of $4,474,266.79, of which $1,717,648.86 is unrestricted. 


At 9:23 p.m., the council entered into executive session to evaluate the performance of the city manager.  The returned to open session at 11:34 p.m., but took no action before adjourning.

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