City council sets election for May 14

The Italy City Council approved an ordinance calling for a general election May 14 for the purpose of electing a mayor and two council members for terms of two years and calling for a special election for the reauthorization of the local sales and use tax. The rate is one-fourth of one percent that will continue providing revenue for maintenance and repair of municipal streets.
Ronda Cockerham, assistant city administrator, said voters must approve this street sales tax, passed in 2007, every four years. This money collected may only be used for street repair and has most recently been used to resurface parts of Clark, Dilworth, Dunlap, Sparkman, Taylor and White streets.
The city plans to reclaim and chip seal Dallas, College, Davenport, Ridge and Simms streets this summer. Cockerham said she hopes to add South Ward and Harpold streets to the list, if possible.
Her report indicated that Lindsey Construction recently completed the overlay on Couch Street near the new bridge. Cockerham said there was extra asphalt and contractors were able to overlay San Jacinto Street as well.
The council also approved a joint election with the Italy Independent School District with the election to be held in city hall council chambers.
Anyone interested in running for the expired positions have until May 14 at 5 p.m. to do so. Packets are available at Italy City Hall. Early voting begins May 2 and runs through May 10.
Following a half-hour executive session, the council unanimously approved the motion to retain and increase the salary of Dean Carroll, public works director.
During department reports, Carroll thanked the citizens for their patience during the recent cold snap when some residents were without water. He said this has been a tough three weeks for the public works department.
He said the pumps went out on the wells and the freeze took out the control panels. Carroll said his crew has been working the controls manually 24-hours a day.
Tom Little, who was in attendance at the meeting, praised Carroll and his crew for their hard work. “You and your department did a super job through this.”
Gary Burton of Burton Engineers presented a detailed estimate regarding the purchase of water from the City of Waxahachie.
He estimated the cost to run a 12” water line between Italy and Waxahachie between $5.6 and $5.9 million. This roughly, would increase water bills an estimated $40 per month and would take two-to-three years to complete.
Burton said there are several options available to offset those costs, which would include adding other water utilities onto the line.
He also said the City of Corsicana has run a water line to Frost. The distance is shorter in this scenario but the city would be required to purchase right-of-way between Italy and Frost. The city currently has an easement between Italy and Waxahachie along the abandoned railroad right-of-way.
He said the city, even with the purchase of right-of-way, could possibly save about a million dollars running a water line from Frost.
The council took no action on the item with Carroll noting that it was more for informational purposes at this time.
The council also approved a resolution from the Italy Economic Development Corporation for phase two of the Italy Community Center Improvement Projects. The resolution authorizes Mark Stiles, president, to enter into demolition, engineering and other contracts for the project.
This encompasses the demolition of the former community center and the recently purchased building next to it on Main Street.
Additionally, the council voted not to accept an additional gross revenue franchise fee offered by Atmos Energy.
They offered the city the opportunity to accept or opt out of a revised interpretation of “gross receipts” to include a “fee on fee” payment.
If the city had opted to accept the additional fee, local Atmos customers would have been charged an additional fee with assessments going back to January of 2009. They roughly estimated the cost would have been $1 per month, per custom assuming that gas usage is less than $100 per month. The benefit for the city would have been additional franchise payment from both resident and commercial customers.
They chose to opt out, so customers will not be assessed these additional “fee on fee” costs back to 2009.
Joan Grabowski asked if trash customers would have their trash pick up bill reduced since DCI did not pick up trash one week.
Mayor Frank Jackson said the firm said they did pick up two weeks worth of trash and noted the city did not expect to see a decrease in costs from the firm.
Grabowski also said the street signs are gone from the intersection of Dallas Street and Couch Street.
During department reports, Lt. David Gray presented the police reports for the month of January in the absence of C.V. Jones, police chief.
Gray said officers made seven arrests and were called to service 121 times. Officers worked a total of 1,293 hours. The animal control officer worked 54.5 hours and picked up 28 animals. The officer issued two citations and two verbal warnings. The code enforcement officer sent two courtesy letters.
Carroll said the department experienced a 5.14 percent water loss during the month. Customers used 4,825,000 gallons of water.
In a report from Don Chambers, fire chief, the fire and EMS personnel responded to 33 calls during the month.
The municipal court recorded 473 citations issued by the Italy Police Department and cleared 10 warrants.
Cockerham said the Texas Department of Rural Affairs staff is reviewing an application from the city regarding the 275,000 water system improvements grant application.
The mayor and council thanked the city departments and especially the public works department for the job they did during the recent freeze.