City council moves forward with water project

The Italy City Council moved closer to start construction with the water bond project at its monthly meeting Monday evening.

Scott Hoelzle, an engineer with KSA Engineers, briefly updated council members about the proposed new ground storage tank, chemical building, fluid cooler and generator. He said they are down to fine tuning the project plans.

The council, with a motion by Greg Richards and a second from Dennis Perkins Jr., unanimously approved the plans and specifications and authorized the staff and consultant to proceed with the bidding process. Hoelzle said construction should begin in the fall and construction should take about a year.

Council members also unanimously approved a resolution (#12-0813-01) entering into an agreement with Linebarger, Goggin Blair & Sampson, LLP, to collect court fines and fees. This includes unpaid fines, fees, court costs, forfeited bonds, restitution ordered by a court serving the municipality and cases in which the accused failed to appear.

Teri Murdock, city secretary/administrator, said the firm will add an additional 30% fee onto outstanding warrants charges. This 30% will be the firm’s fee. She said the city will get everything they are owed. This firm does collections for cities and communities nationwide.

The council discussed a sign ordinance several months ago. After consulting the city attorney, the council unanimously approved a sign ordinance (#12-0813-01) regulating signs within the city limits and the city’s extra-territorial jurisdiction.

The sign ordinance requires permitting which must be approved by appropriate city staff.

A few of the prohibited signs include: abandoned or dilapidated signs; billboards; changeable electronic variable message signs; off-premises signs; pole and pylon signs; roof signs; unframed flimsy signs (this does not extend to flags); signs advertising structure containing obscene, indecent or illegal matter; signs on the side or near any building or property when such sign faces upon a contiguous residential district; signs that advertise events or businesses located outside the city limits; and signs that are illuminated to such intensity as to cause glare or brightness to a degree that could constitute a hazard or nuisance.

Other prohibited signs: signs which constitute a hazard to pedestrian or vehicular traffic or interfere with or obstruct the view of a traffic sign; signs which have visible moving parts or visible mechanical movement of any description or other apparent visible movement achieved by electrical, electronic or mechanical means including intermittent electrical pulsations or by action of normal wind currents; signs which incorporate moving or flashing lights except time and temperature signs; signs which make use of any word, phrase, symbol or character that might interfere, mislead or confuse vehicular or pedestrian traffic; signs which make use or words such as “stop, “look,” “danger” or other similar phrases; and signs which no longer advertise a bona fide business activity, campaign, service or product sold.

Additional prohibited signs: signs with exposed neon conduit or tubing, interior or exterior neon window signs or lighting displays inside or outside a building; snipe signs; string lights or unshielded light that is within public view and used in connection with commercial premises for commercial purposes (other than Christmas decorations); vehicular signs placed or affixed to vehicles and/or trailers that are parked on a public right-of-way, public property or private property visible from public view; signs located on any vacant building, except a sign pertaining to the lease or sale of the building to which it pertains; and wind devices.

There are exempt signs that do not require permitting. They are governmental signs; menu boards that are a maximum of eight feet in height and do not exceed 72 square feet in area; real estate signs advertising the sale/lease of the premises upon which the sign is located; shingle signs that do not exceed two square feet; signs attached to a residence or apartment building stating only the name or number of the building or owner; signs on bulletin boards customarily incidental to places of worship, libraries, museums, social clubs, societies or charitable organizations provided the sign does not exceed 32 square feet in area; and public utility signs or markers.

Other exempt signs include: traffic or other municipal signs, railroad crossing signs, danger and such temporary, emergency or non-advertising signs as may be approved by the city; window signs that do not exceed 50 percent of the exterior window area; political signs, subject to certain conditions; and one construction sign per contractor per construction site for the duration of the construction permit.

The council also approved four types of temporary signs that will be permitted. They are: garage sale/open house signs limited to three square feet; banner signs, limited to a 60-day period and mounted wholly within the business property; searchlight signs, limited to a 30-day period; and special event signs.

Tracy Wood with Yeldell, Wilson & Company, PC, briefly updated council members regarding the annual audit report.

In other business, the council unanimously approved the continuation of coverage with employee insurance with TML through the intergovernmental Employee Benefits Pool and approved an interlocal cooperation contract with Ellis County and the city for the 2012/2013 budget year. They also re-appointed Randy Boyd, Darrell Rosemond and Mark Stiles to the Economic Development Corporation Board.

The council also approved minutes from the July meeting, bills and earned compensatory time.

Departmental reports were available from the various departments.

The Italy Police Department was called to service 295 times in July. Officers worked a total of 1,589 hours and made seven arrests. The animal control officer picked up four animals and was called to service 27 times. The code enforcement officer was called to service 17 timed during the month.

Dean Carrell, public works director, said 97 percent of the new water meters have been changed out. He said the county crew is assisting the city by resurfacing College Street, Avalon Street, Ridge Street and portions of Couch Street, Avalon Street, South Ward Street and Travis Street.

The municipal court filed 328 citations from the police department, cleared six warrants and issued 100 collection letters. The department issued 184 warrants during the month of July.

Murdock said she has been contacted by a contractor with Family Dollar Stores and said the company does plan to build in Italy as long as the ground testing goes well. She said they plan to have the store completed within six months once testing is complete.

She also said plans are to add a Taco Bell to the location where the drive-thru beer store was located at I-35E and LR Campbell Road.

Murdock said they are working on the last phase of roofing formalities with the new community center building and said a new air conditioning unit has been installed. She said Don Chambers is constructing cabinets in the kitchen area.

Currently, Murdock said she has begun working on the budget for the 2012/2013 year.

Cloy Richards with Grant Works was scheduled to address the council regarding the application of the Home Program Grant through TDHCA but failed to attend.