City council provides debris dump for resident

The City of Italy is allowing citizens to dump unwanted junk and tree limbs near the sewer plant on Tuesday and Thursdays, according to Teri Murdock, city secretary/administrator. The announcement came at the council’s monthly meeting held Monday evening.

Murdock said the Italy Convenience Station is an effort to help clean up Italy and will allow residents to get rid of items such as tree limbs, debris and household items.

Residents are to bring their loads to city hall where they will make payment. Then, they will be met by a public works employee at the sewer plant to unload the items.

Murdock said cost is preliminary and will be evaluated from time to time. Currently, cost is $84 for a 16’ trailer with debris about 2’ high, $168 for the same size trailer with debris about 4’ high; $53 for a long bed pickup with debris 2’ high, $108 for debris 4’ high; and $46 for a short bed pickup with debris 2’ high, $72 with debris 4’ high. She said smaller loads will be estimated by city hall personnel.

Murdock said the following items will not be allowed – bricks, concrete, construction material, batteries, tires, paint, refrigerators, metal, steel, auto parts, household trash, chemicals and air conditioners.

In other business, the council unanimously approved an ordinance (12-0409-01) dissolving the Italy Parks Commission, its constitution and bylaws and establishing the Italy Parks Board and regulations governing the Italy Parks Board.

James Hobbs, council member, asked why the city saw the need for reestablishing the park board.

Murdock said she has reviewed the current park board constitution and by-laws and found several conflicts and items that were not up to date.

For instance, the old constitution said the board could consist of 7-12 members. The new bylaws would set that total at nine members.  The old constitution said members must live in the city limits or within the school district; the new version is modified to include anyone living in Ellis County. The old board had the power to expel a member and to fill vacancies. Murdock said the mayor has the power to fill vacancies. She said there were also discrepancies about what constituted a quorum, term limits and meeting times.

She said for the last couple of years, the park board has been a festival commission. She said the park board needs to focus on the parks – the Gorman Park, George Scott Memorial Park, Upchurch field and the Children’s Memorial Park. She said they can get a festival committee to be a festival committee but this is a park board.

The council also unanimously approved an inter-local agreement with the school district for landscape maintenance at George Scott Park. She said this is basically the same agreement that is in place, it just flip-flops the landscape maintenance of the park. The city will be in charge of maintenance between April and September and the school district would take responsibility between October and March.

Murdock presented the council with an ordinance repealing two ordinances and replacing with and replacing with a single ordinance regulating animals within the city limits.

Hobbs questioned the need for the changes.

Murdock said this combines an ordinance that pertains mainly to dogs and cats and one that pertains to wild animals. She said this “combination” adds verbiage regarding cows, goats and horses and updated laws. The ordinance (12-0409-02) was unanimously approved by council members.
A great deal of discussion centered around a lease agreement with Internet America that has a repeater on the water tower.

The current agreement has Internet America paying the city $500 per month rent. The company sent the city a letter stating they were dropping payments to $300 per month since they did not have the clientele they expected.

Hobbs asked if Internet America considered the letter as a binding contract.

Murdock said she felt that it was a bluff and talked with the city attorney about the matter. She said the attorney suggested they send a rebuttal letter requiring $400 per month for three years.

The council unanimously approved the rebuttal letter be sent to Internet America.

Department reports

Italy Police Chief Diron Hill gave the police-related reports.

He said the police department was called to service 277 times in March, a sizeable increase from 94 calls to service the same time last year. Hill said the arrests that have been made have been major arrests, including solving a crime before the victim knew that he had been robbed. He said another arrest made the news recently.

Officers worked a total of 1,463 hours, including STEP hours. Hobbs asked that Hill’s report break out the number of STEP hours worked by officers.

The chief said the animal control officer worked 16 hours, impounded three animals and was called to service 25 times. The code enforcement officer worked 16 hours, wrote 16 courtesy letters, issued two citations and was called to service 19 times.

Resident Karen Mathiowetz told the council they either needed to enforce the garage sale ordinance or repeal it.

Hill said the code enforcement officer will soon complete training and will work more hours per week. He said they have already discussed enforcing the garage sale ordinance.

Dean Carrell, public works director, had a new water meter setup — Mosaic Firefly — that will replace all current water meters.

He said the meters should begin arriving within the next couple of weeks. The meters, once installed, will send individual readings to city hall without having public works employees walking the routes.

Carrell said each meter is $175.

He said every water meter user should have a cut off between the house and the meter in the event of an emergency. He was questioned as to why this had not been mentioned before. Murdock said this requirement is in place with current meters.

Carrell mentioned the property owners being responsible for any damages that occur to the meter once installed.

Resident Tom Little said his water meter is not on his property and questioned how he could be held responsible for something that is not on his property.

Again, Murdock said property owners are responsible for any damages that occur to meters in place now. Carrell explained that the meters will be flush to the ground.

In other city business, Murdock said bids will be opened for the Boze Building roof repair April 17. She said the Economic Development Corporation will meet April 23 to award the bid.

Murdock and Mayor Frank Jackson thanked everyone who donated or helped with the Mayor’s Easter Egg Hunt. She said things went very well.

Citizens’ comments

Mathiowetz thanked the police department for their professionalism Sunday morning when a skunk entered her neighborhood.

She also requested the city clean up the rail road right-of-way at the intersection of Ridge and Travis streets.

Joan Grabowski said the ditches are deep on Couch Street and said they need to be filled in.

Little complained to the council about the ditches along Derrs Chapel Road. He said some property owners keep the ditch-line clean and others do not.  He said the city needs to clean that drainage ditch.

Little also asked why the city purchased bottled water for employees. The mayor said the city has not purchased bottled water for the employees in about a year.

Little said the city needed to mow at the intersection of SH 77 and Couch Street. He said the weeds are high and obscure vision. The mayor said that area is state right-of-way and they are responsible for mowing that area. Little said the city needed to mow it anyway. The mayor explained that they cannot go onto state property and make any repairs.

Elmerine Bell said the police department needed to be more diligent about watching farm trucks going down Harris Street. She said this equipment destroys the street.

Jackson tried to explain that the city cannot stop farm equipment from traveling down Harris Street. He said it is a state law that farm equipment cannot be impeded from getting their crops to market. 

Hobbs said the state or those that destroy the road should be held responsible for any road damage.

Bell also asked the mayor when they are going to tear down an eyesore — the old city hall. She suggested they tear the building down and put up a plaque.

Rodney Guthrie, council member, was not present at the meeting.