City council sells property on Williams Street

Image: Mayor James Hobbs presents Dean Carrell, public works director, with a glass plaque and certificate from Texas A&M University naming him a Certified Water Professional.

Mayor James Hobbs presents Dean Carrell, public works director, with a glass plaque and certificate from Texas A&M University naming him a Certified Water Professional. (Alysa Kirton photo)

The Italy City Council approved the sale of the Old Colored City Hall on Williams Street at a meeting Monday evening for the purpose of establishing a non-profit agency at that location.

James Johnson, resident, approached the council last month and again at this meeting. Johnson’s proposal was to purchase the property for $25. He said their business, A Call to Souls Outreach, Inc., would be responsible for transfer and legal fees.

He said, “Our goal for the property is to build a new office building on the old property site. The estimated size of the new building would be 600 square feet. The time frame to complete this operation is 12 to 18 months. The purpose of the purchase would be to conduct daily business, apply and receiving federal grants, philanthropist grants and private donations in order to aide low-income families in the community with their utility bills at the second week of every month.”

Johnson said the business would operate Monday, Tuesday and Thursday from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. and would employ two to four people from the community in order to help grow the local economy.

The council discussed the item in their hour-long executive session.

City attorney Ed Voss told Johnson that there were a few issues that needed to be addressed to the planning and zoning commission. He said that includes the odd-size of the lot, the size of the proposed building and possible parking issues. He said that, if the council approves the sale, the city administrator would work with him to get these issues before the planning and zoning board.

Johnson said he understood the conditions. Dennis Perkins Jr. made the motion to approve the sale with a second from Rodney Guthrie. The motion was approved unanimously.

The council took no action on an item concerning a donation to the city from Stephen Carter.

Dean Carrell, public works director, said Carter asked him to make the presentation in his absence.

Carrell said Carter wanted to donate the abandoned gas station on Hwy. 77 to the city for $1.

Upon further discussion, they discovered the abandoned building would have to be torn down and the property had underground fuel tanks which the city would be forced to address. The item was tabled until it could be addressed further in executive session.

When they returned, Mayor James Hobbs said the city was taking “no action” on the donation.

Voss also said no action was taken regarding the evaluation of Carrell and no further action was being taken in matters relating to grievances filed by Manuala Martin, court clerk, and Teri Murdock, city administrator.

Earlier in the meeting, the council awarded Tim F Glendening & Associates, Inc. the Management Services Contract for a $275,000 matching grant his firm obtained for the city to replace water lines on Williams, Hardeman, Washington and a portion of Harris streets.

Carrell said the city’s portion of the grant is $30,000 and said Glendening will prepare the grant to go out for bid.

Frank Jackson made the motion with Richards seconding the motion to move forward with the grant project. The motion passed unanimously.

In other areas of public works, Carrell presented two maps for council approval. The maps concerned the water and wastewater CCN for the city.

Carrell said the previous water and wastewater CCNs were 200’ off the current lines. He expanded the lines and requested these maps be sent to TCEQ for approval. He said these map updates will protect the city from someone moving in and using groundwater within the outlying areas. He said there is room for adjustment at a later date due to the city’s ETJ.

Richards made the motion with a second from Bruce Utley. The motion passed unanimously.

Elmerine Bell, member of the Italy Economic Development Corporation, presented the council with a report on the Hot Topics for Texas Cities Seminar hosted by Brown Hoffmeister LLP recently.

She briefly outlined a few items about open meetings, how to run a meeting, substandard structure updates and the focus of social media and privacy considerations. She mentioned SB 1368 that expands public information for public officials.

Troy Kowalsky was back for the second month after his request was tabled in July.

In July, Kowalsky requested the city consider a waiver of the late charge if someone had not been late within the previous year.

Kowalsky reiterated his request expanding it to 18 months if the council was not comfortable with 12 months.

Utley said his would be opening the flood gates if the late charge was waived.

Richards said that if the city starts this, there will never be an end to it.

Murdock said it would entail extra work for the water department clerk to check the late fees each month. She said, “The city had to be equal and fair to each and every citizen.” In that case, she said they would be forced to check records each month for the late fees to see if this was the first time in so many months. If so, the charges would be waived for all who had not been late within the specified number of months. She said it would add work to the staff.

The request died for the lack of a motion.

The council also approved an ordinance (#13-0812-01) prohibiting parking on Dale Evans Drive, from Hwy. 77 to I-35E and on I-35E service roads. The exceptions would include street construction, maintenance and repair equipment; equipment used by public service utility companies engaged in repairing public service utilities, motor buses when taking on or discharging passengers at customary bus stops, when actually parked at a designated loading zone or where it is lawful to park a commercial motor vehicle for the purpose of accepting or delivery transportable goods; or a vehicle with a mechanical defect, making it unsafe to proceed further.

Guthrie made the motion to approve the ordinance with a second from Jackson. The motion passed unanimously.

Italy Police Chief Diron Hill presented a proposal for the police department to participate in the Texas Data Exchange (TDEx) and the National Data Exchange (N-DEx) through the Texas Department of Public Safety. Hill said officers could get crime data information nationwide.

Guthrie made the motion to approve the agreement with a second from Perkins. The motion passed unanimously.

Hobbs said the council would not consider the additional personnel to the public works department since it was near the new budget year.

The council scheduled a budget workshop on Thursday, Aug. 22, at 6 p.m.

During citizens’ comments, Karen Mathiowetz asked the council why the garage sale ordinance was not being enforced. Chief Hill told her that citizens should contact the police department if they see signs on utility poles or still up after the conclusion of the garage sale.

John Droll asked the council whey they were considering a new employee in the public works department just two months from a new budget year.

Department reports were given by Carrell, Hill, Martin and Murdock.

Hobbs presented Carrell with a certificate and plaque from Texas A&M University naming him a Certified Water Professional.

Prior to adjournment at 8:47 p.m. council members thanked the citizens for attending the recent meetings.