NEWS HEADLINES

US 380 speed limit to drop

By Bob Buckel | Published Wednesday, January 16, 2013

A light snow wasn’t the only thing that fell on Decatur Monday night.

The city council, a few hours earlier, gave its approval to a slight drop in the speed limit on U.S. 380, and took happy note of a projected drop in the interest rate the city will pay on $3.5 million in bonded debt from 2004.

The council approved on first reading an ordinance to lower the speed limit on U.S. 380 from Rose Avenue to the western city limit. Police Chief Rex Hoskins said the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) had done a study at his request, and agreed that lowering the limit to 55 mph on the west side of the city could help reduce accidents.

“It was at 60 miles per hour prior to putting in the red light,” he said. “We asked TxDOT to look at it and they agreed.”

The area of change starts at the west city limits and ends at Victory Church, where it changes now. The ordinance is designed to cut down on accidents, particularly considering the truck traffic that uses the highway.

The measure will be back on the council’s agenda for final approval Jan. 28.

Lower interest rates should save the city between $40,000 and $50,000 a year for the next 10 years as a result of the debt refinancing process the council set in motion Monday.

Official action won’t be on the agenda until Jan. 28, but Monday the council gave City Manager Brett Shannon the green light to re-finance the city’s Series 2004 bonds – $3,530,000 in certificates of obligation.

Moody’s Financial Service affirmed the city’s A-1 bond rating, which means a favorable interest rate on the re-finance and lowered interest payments over the remaining term of the bonds.

“That A-1 rating is only one rung down from AA status,” Shannon said. “It takes a lot bigger organization and a lot more assets to get to that rating. But this is good news for Decatur. This is a win-win.”

Shannon will work with Murphy Davis at Sentry Management, the city’s bond consultant, to get things ready for the bond sale, which should occur in February.

The council also approved on second and final reading the zoning change which clears the way for the construction of a building for H2X Hydroexcavating, the Colorado-based company that is moving its national headquarters to Decatur.

The company will occupy a new building to be constructed at Mill and Stratton in the northeast part of the city.

It received a $200,000 grant from the Decatur Economic Development Corporation to help facilitate the move. The EDC is also granting the city money to rebuild Stratton Street as part of the project.

Also, the council approved an agreement with utility consultant Vybranz, LLC to look at the city’s rates and electricity usage and see if savings can be achieved.

The consultant gets 35 percent of whatever they are able to save for the city.

The three-year contract will allow the city to use Vybranz’s services in other areas as well.

The council also discussed moving or cancelling its Feb. 11 meeting, which falls on Wise County Legislative Day in Austin. Several councilmembers will likely be gone that evening, and the following Monday, Feb. 18, falls on an official holiday for Presidents’ Day.

They also heard a report on Wise Regional Health System and reappointed four members to the Decatur Hospital Authority board of directors.

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