City of Italy recognizes Italy High School art students

Image: City of Italy honored Italy High School Art students and their teacher, Jeremy Glover, for the Christmas mural they created. (L to R) Pedro Salazar, Jeremy Glover, Mayor James Hobbs, Zachary Mercer and Halee Turner. Not pictured are Lupita Rincon, Jozie Perkins and Brendan Huffman.

City of Italy honored Italy High School Art students and their teacher, Jeremy Glover, for the Christmas mural they created. (L to R) Pedro Salazar, Jeremy Glover, Mayor James Hobbs, Zachary Mercer and Halee Turner. Not pictured are Lupita Rincon, Jozie Perkins and Brendan Huffman. (Karen Mathiowetz)

At the monthly meeting of the Italy City Council Monday night, Mayor James Hobbs recognized Italy High School Art instructor, Jeremy Glover, and several students for their creation of the Christmas mural for the City.

Police Chief Shawn Miller recognized the Rookie of the Year and Officer of the Year.

“Our rookie of the year has shown steady improvement since he started with the Department. He supports his fellow officers and has truly been an asset to the Department. He is willing to take on extra responsibility and will do anything that is asked of him. He is always willing to come in early or take an extra shift if needed to cover the shift. He is a dedicated member to this Department. This year our Rookie of the Year is Guy Saxon.”

“The officer of the year has been toward the tops in the department in arrests, citations and calls for service and has also taken on extra responsibility of coordinating National Night Out. He as participated in the Shop with a Hero program by playing in the softball game and shipping with the children. He has continued to be an asset to the Department. The Officer of the Year is Jason Cherry.”

City Spending Questioned

Council member, Steven Farmer, questioned the following items on the Profit and Loss Statement. He also had other questions on bills to be paid.

$5,000 was budgeted for Inspections. $8,975 has been spent for 179.5% of the budget.
$5,800 was budgetedor Utilities. $15,549.72 has been spent for 268.1% of the budget.
$10,000 was budgeted for Street Paving. $18,654.20 has been spent for 186.5% of the budget.
$21,523 was budgeted for Attorney Fees. $10,735.84 has been spent for 49.9% of the budget. He stated we were only 3 months into the current budget so we needed to keep an eye on this one.

Farmer stated that they must do budget amendments when they go over budget on any item. He said we needed to keep our eyes on expenses and spending.

“I want to know why we are over budget on these items and where the money is coming from to pay these,” Farmer stated.

Rodney Guthrie and Greg Richards voted to approve the bills for payment. Steven Farmer and Paul Cockerham voted for non-approval. Frank Jackson was absent so Mayor Hobbs broke the tie and voted not to pay the bills until things could be cleared up. A called meeting will be scheduled for this.

Citizens Comments

I addressed the council and told them I had three things of concern. The city had spent money on flowers for Bosses’ Day.

“When I worked in an office and even here at City Hall, on bosses day if I wanted to give my boss something, I paid for it. It is not right that I have to pay for this.”

I also told the council I thought they needed criteria for Citizen of the Month. I said that there are so many people that should be recognized like our Firefighters that do so much for the city. Instead there are people that are receiving the honor that don’t do anything for the city.

The third thing I asked about was why it has taken two years for a work order to be completed. I said that my parents memorial pot was moved when the work on the pavilion was begun and I was promised the pot would be moved back when the project was completed. I told the council that had not happened even though I had turned in several work orders. Paul Cockerham assured me this would be taken care of by the end of the week.

Charles Hyles asked the council how a city brings in more money than ever before yet have streets like Italy does. He said that he would like to see the streets taken care of and the downtown area cleaned up properly. He also didn’t understand why things were not being taken care of. He also said the citizens deserved better.

“Yall bought $100,000 worth of street equipment and you are not using it. You are putting gravel in the holes.”

He told the council he had some good news. In August, the city applied for a $100,000 park grant. The grant was approved. It is a $50,000 matching grant. He said it would be a three-year project at Upchurch Park. There will be new playground equipment, sand volleyball court, covered area for senior citizens and more. He said it would be a great thing for our community.

Joan Grabowski questioned several items on the financial statement such as mileage paid to Ronda Cockerham and Teri Murdock not being equal. She also told the council that City Hall did not need to close for lunch. She said that issue had been considered by the council several months ago and the council approved the office being open from 8:00 to 5:00 and remaining open during lunch time.

Larry Eubank invited the council members and those in attendance to attend a meeting at the school to discuss school renovations and improvements.

Departmental Reports

Italy Fire and EMS answered 12 calls for service in December.

Dean Carrell was absent so there was no verbal Public Works report.

Chief Shawn Martin reported that there were 518 calls for service and 144 citations issued in the month of December.

Ronda Cockerham gave Teri Murdock’s report. She said that sales tax was down 2.59% from last year. She said the grand opening for Walmart was held and the city welcomes them to Italy. She reported that Love’s is moving forward and approval for the final plat is on tonight’s agenda. She said the election for Mayor and two Council members is set for May 9. Sign up forms are available at City Hall and can be turned in from January 28 through February 27.

Other Action

Approved a contract between the City and KSA Engineering for services associated with design and construction of a new lift station to replace the existing one on Dale Evans Drive.

Approved the final plat of Love’s Truck Stops and Country Stores.

Approved an ordinance providing for a General Election on May 9, 2015 for two Council Members and Mayor and calling for a Special Election for the re-authorization of the local sales and use tax at the rate of one-fourth of one percent.

Approved a Joint Election Agreement with Italy ISD.

Approved installing a 30 mile per hour speed limit sign on College Street.

Approved placing financials and work orders on the City Web Site.

Approved paying police officers time and a half for Selective Traffic Enforcement Program (STEP) and approved the ordinance authorizing this.

They took no action regarding closing for lunch. Rodney Guthrie stated he thought the office needed to be open so citizens could at least come into City Hall even if they were told that the person they need to talk to is at lunch and tell them the time that person would return.