The city council meeting on January 21st lasted about 90 minutes with the agenda moving along quickly and efficiently.
Elaine Paske of the Park Board addressed the council and said that the park board is tentatively scheduled for June 29th. Martha Speckles was sworn in as the municipal court clerk. The city approved the hiring of 3 new employees. Any new employees for the city or the police department must be brought up to city council for approval. Police chief Stan Maresch said that the department is applying for a grant from the Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant Program. Maresch said that they are applying for enough money to purchase two new police vehicles at a cost of approximately $90,000.00. It’s a no-match grant so if awarded the money, the department would not need to come up with matching funds. The grant money is federal money earmarked for this area. The total amount of money available for the area is $250,000 but that is a significant sized area, central-west Texas and goes all the way to Sweetwater. Councilwoman Kristi Goetz has assembled members for the committee to review the city charter. The charter was written in 1964 and has not undergone any changes to update it. The members appointed to the council are: Andrew Peacock, Nancy Blackwell, Ricky Sonnenberg, Belinda Castillo, Jeff Smith, Stella Gonzales and councilman Bob McDaniel along with Goetz. The auditor’s report was not presented since the auditor was not able to attend the council meeting. It will be discussed at the next council meeting. Councilmen Bob McDaniel and Rick Morrish were not pleased and the council agreed that the city needs to take steps to ensure that the auditor is at the next council meeting. There is an auditor’s report but it is not being released until the auditor can explain it in person at the next council meeting. Originally it was said that the auditor would be from Gayla Fullerton CPA. The logic was based on the fact that Fullerton’s agency has performed city audits annually and would already have a working knowledge of the city finances. It was, however, revealed at this council meeting that the accountant is not from Fullerton’s firm. The accountant that did the audit is a consultant for Fullerton. The city council will have a workshop to go over laws, ethics, key issues, etc., that the council deals with. The workshop is on Saturday, February 16th from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. The Abilene water deal was approved on January 15th. The airport survey was completed so that the city can apply to the TXDoT aviation grant program. The collection agency for outstanding utility bills and traffic fines has began work. The city was awarded the $14,500 recycling grant. The city will now purchase equipment for the program. There is another $6,000 available that the city will apply for. Jack Watkins has been the integral part of the city’s recycling initiative and performed a lot of hard work to get the program going. The warrant roundup will be in March. If you have outstanding traffic fines or other warrants you can expect a knock on your door or visitors at your place of employment during the warrant roundup. The time is now to contact the court and get something worked out before you end up at the Runnels County Jail Bed and Breakfast. The water department is replacing the water line on 5th street from Park ave to about the 300 block.