Italy City Council adopts tax rate for 2008/2009

The Italy City Council adopted a tax rate of .936728 per hundred-dollar valuation for the 2008/2009 tax year at its monthly meeting held Monday, Sept. 8. The $2 million-plus budget breaks down to $1,247,700 for water and wastewater and $1,163,983 for the general operating fund.

There were no citizens present to address the budget at a public hearing held prior to the adoption of the budget.

One citizen did address the council regarding traffic speeds on College Street.

Desiree Hernandez told the council that traffic is going too fast as they reach the 900 block of College Street. She pointed out that there are no sidewalks in that area filled with children. She stressed the need for more speed limit signs on the FM 667 end of College Street and more police patrol.

In other business, the council awarded a water line replacement project to TTG Utilities of Gatesville.

Jessie Whitten of the Brannon Corporation said TTG Utilities was not the lowest bidder but said the lowest bidder did not have bid information broken down in unit prices. He also noted, “There were several irregularities and inconsistencies with the lowest bid and I thought I should express my concern. I think it is a basic misunderstanding on the part of the contractor.”

“If you decide to go with the low bidder,” he said, “You should have him appear before this council and state that he is satisfied with the base bid total,” Whitten urged.

Following a lengthy discussion, Rodney Guthrie made the motion to accept the bid from TTG Utilities due to the inconsistencies of the low bidder. The motion passed unanimously. The deadline is Sept. 30 to have the contract executed.

The council appointed Conrad (Nick) Kinze to fill a vacated seat on the Economic Development Corporation (EDC). Others who had applied for the vacancy were Mark Souder Jr., Ann Byers, Janet Campbell and Tom Little.

The council also adopted an ordinance for the sale of Lloyd Street to the four adjoining property owners.

Chris Metz, interim pubic works director, said he met with David Bailey with the City of Waxahachie about getting surface water to Italy.

“Due to the current economy,” Metz said, “the City of Waxahachie is stepping back, reorganizing and trying to get more wholesale customers on board.” He added, “They are not halting the project, just reorganizing.”

The council tabled an item from Grant Works regarding a grant up to $350,000. The council wanted to study various options before making a decision.

Department reports

Don Chambers, fire chief, said the department answered 35 calls during the month of August. There were 21 emergency medical service calls and firefighters battled two structure fires. Five building permits were issued and six building inspections were done last month.

Chambers reported that he met twice with a representative with East Texas Medical Service. He said an ambulance should be based at the Italy fire station by Nov. 1.

C.V. Johns, police chief, said his officers were called to service 117 times and made 14 arrests during the month of August. The animal control officer worked 15 hours.

Kandice Hubert, interim city secretary, said she worked on the budget during the month.

Susan Delephimne, courts clerk, said the police department issued 352 citations during August. In comparison, the department issued 76 citations in August of 2007. She said there were no citations from the animal control officer or the code enforcement officer.

Metz said the city is losing an estimated $4,471 per month in water due to ineffective water meters. He explained that the city is losing that much if 20% of the meters were ineffective. He said more likely 50% of the current water meters are not working properly.

He presented the council a rough proposal for the entrance to Upchurch field utilizing bricks and boulders the city currently possesses.

Council comments

Guthrie thanked the employees for all their hard work on the budget and the citizens for their patience.

Greg Richards said he was glad to be back following major surgery. He indicated he had a ways to go with chemotherapy and radiation but appreciated the prayers for him.

Dennis Perkins Jr. thanked Hubert and Metz for their hard work on the budget. He also thanked the council and mayor for their dedication.

Mark Souder Sr. said the city has whittled down the budget as low as they can go. He said it was a difficult budget to hit and was stressful for the employees and the council. He also thanked the folks that come to the meetings adding that he does not understand why more citizens do not attend council meetings.

Mayor Frank Jackson said the city is in the middle of hiring a city secretary and an assistant city secretary.

A vacant council seat needs to be filled. Four people, thus far, have signed up for the position. They are Tom Little, Vic Delephimne, John Droll and Conrad (Nick) Kinze.