Perturbed resident ejected from Bridgeport City Council meeting

A Bridgeport resident was escorted out of City Hall Tuesday night after he tried to make a public comment about a closed session agenda item out of turn.

Gerald Groves stood up to speak as Mayor Corey Lane was about to make a motion to pass the consent agenda, an item that always immediately follows the public comment section of Bridgeport City Council meetings.

Lane said Groves never filled out a comment card before the meeting, and therefore had no grounds to speak since the council was not prepared for him to take the podium.

Groves said he did not hear the mayor announce the opening of the public comment section.

“The mayor moved through the agenda so quickly, and my hearing’s not that good anymore,” Groves said later. “When he said consent agenda, that’s when I stepped up because I knew that’s about when the public comment part would be.”

Lane did not recognize Groves to speak and asked him to sit down three times before asking Police Chief Randy Singleton and Assistant Chief Steve Stanford to walk Groves out of the building.

“This is America, and we the people are the master of the government, and you’re supposed to be the servant,” Groves said as he was walking out.

Groves said if he could have made a comment to the council, he would have spoken out against the consideration of home rule that was listed on the closed session part of the agenda.

Home rule, wherein a city can govern themselves in a way they see fit as long as they abide by the state and federal constitutions, is an issue that “tore the town apart” years ago, Groves said.

“I have no reason to believe things have changed since then,” he continued.

Mayor Lane said Friday he believes home rule is an important issue for the city of Bridgeport.

“I think we need to be a home-ruled community because it’s a protection maneuver,” Lane said. “As Fort Worth sprawls out and keeps inching closer to Wise County, we don’t want our residents paying Fort Worth property taxes and so forth.”

Part of the council’s nearly hour-and-a-half closed session was spent discussing the legality of the home rule issue, Lane said.

“It’s not even at the point where we can put it on an agenda, but once it is, we will gladly accept anyone who wants to discuss these items with council as long as they follow proper procedure,” Lane said. “We want to make sure everyone’s voice is heard, but in an orderly manner.”

Currently, the city code does not mandate that citizens fill out a comment card, but strongly suggests it for ease of communication. It does allow each resident three minutes to speak before the council.

“I’ve experienced a lot in watching 40 years of Bridgeport politics, but I’ve never been as taken aback by anything as I was Tuesday night,” Groves said.

OTHER BUSINESS

The council also:

  • awarded a contract to Pavecon Public Works for construction of the Halsell Street Sidewalk Improvement Project to the tune of a $6,084,862.45 bid;
  • voted to opt out of the city’s interlocal agreement with the city of Decatur and Brown Outdoor Advertising for billboard advertising, choosing instead to use that $2,100 a year for Main Street projects;
  • approved the Bridgeport Police Department to apply for an $80,000 reimbursible grant from the state for a new radio console;
  • amended the Fa ade Grant Improvement Program to make the maximum grant allotment $5,000 with a 50/50 match between the city and the business owner; and
  • lowered the animal voucher fees at the Bridgeport Animal Hospital from $90 to $60 to make it easier for people to adopt and vaccinate strays.

The council’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 7, at 900 Thompson Street and is open to the public.

Follow live updates of this meeting and others on Twitter @JakeHarris4.

Posted in News0 Comments

Delinquent fines approach $300,000

Two Bridgeport government entities are owed a combined $270,000 in fines and fees – and they want that money.

Representatives from the Bridgeport Municipal Court and Bridgeport Public Library gave presentations at the Bridgeport City Council meeting Thursday night detailing their delinquent fines.

If you do the crime, you might not have to do the time, but you do have to pay court fees. The council discovered that, unfortunately, a lot of those fees go unpaid in Bridgeport. A recent report stated the court is owed almost $130,000 in delinquent fees.

In an effort to track down the funds, the council hired Perdue, Brandon, Fielder, Collins and Mott, LLP, a law firm specializing in government collections.

Perdue will pursue municipal court cases as far back as 2003 and pocket a collection fee of 30 percent when applicable, according to the contract.

The council will later discuss how to claim the library’s fines, which total $57,323.53.

Library representatives said their oldest late items date back to 1995, and once they accounted for deleted inventory items, there were still 664 items missing.

PUBLIC OPINION

The Perdue contract was the only action item on Thursday night’s agenda with the rest of the meeting spent in public hearings.

The first hearing dealt with the new electronic marquee signs that Bridgeport ISD wants to install at all of its campuses. The signs would display an electronic ticker, emitting light 24 hours, which some residents said might be a nuisance.

“I’m concerned about light from the signs coming into my bedroom at night, and I’m wondering if those signs would affect my property value,” resident Clint Goodman said.

Goodman lives across the street from a future sign location on Cuba Road and said the sign would face one of his windows.

Mayor Corey Lane recommended that the council further investigate how residents would be affected by the signs.

In another public hearing, the council authorized a resident to move a mobile home onto a plot of land usually reserved for a single-family house. Although they approved it, it’s still unclear if the resident will be able to go through with it.

“Whether or not [the resident] can actually build a mobile home that’s up to code is a matter for another time,” Mayor Lane said. “What we’re talking about right now is if we can amend the zoning regulations to allow a mobile home on that section of land.”

The council’s next meeting is scheduled for 7 p.m. Tuesday, March 17, at 900 Thompson St. It is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

Bridgeport City Council takes no action on billboards

The Bridgeport City Council took no action during their Tuesday night meeting, but they did discuss hotel revenue tax dollars and possible billboard signs in the city.

Main Street Manager Tiffany Evans led a discussion about the Main Street Facade Grant program, which is funded by Hotel Occupancy Tax revenues (HOT dollars).

The goal of the program is to promote preservation in Bridgeport’s historic district by offering matching fund grants to business and/or property owners for facade improvements. Several council members spoke about how the program should provide more incentives to businesses that wish to participate.

The program currently matches businesses’ funds on a 2:1 ratio. No businesses have applied for grants so far this year, Evans said.

The council also discussed an amendment to the billboards ordinance after it was brought up in a public forum last meeting.

Mayor Corey Lane said he felt like there wasn’t a strong need for any amendments right now since the city already allows businesses to advertise on signs they own.

“There is currently no regulation banning advertising signage, so what’s the reason to even bring this to the floor?” Lane asked.

Councilman David Correll agreed with the citizen that originally brought up the issue that there should be more advertising in the city, but he feels like the current ordinance is adequate.

It defines a billboard as “an off-premises sign containing at least 128 square feet per face and that is owned by a person, corporation or other entity that engages in the business of selling the advertising space on the sign.”

A 2005 ordinance prohibited billboards within city limits but grandfathered in all billboards that had been previously erected under the condition that they not undergo any additional changes. It also states that billboards were prohibited for aesthetic purposes and safety concerns – they could cause distractions to drivers, and if a billboard falls down during a wind storm, it could do major damage.

“I’m not against people advertising their business, but I’m just not seeing a need for an amendment to the current ordinance,” Lane said.

An item that was on the consent agenda but not discussed was the police department’s racial profiling data for 2014.

According to the data in the agenda packet, the Bridgeport Police Department made 2,046 vehicle stops last year, resulting in 192 arrests. Of those 2,046 stops, 1,420 were Caucasian, 551 were Hispanic, 64 were African-American, eight were Asian, two were Middle Eastern and one was Native American.

Race was only known prior to the stop in 24 instances. After the stops, 221 searches were conducted and only 28 percent of the searches were consensual.

The council’s next meeting will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10 at 900 Thompson St. in a special closed session. Its next regularly scheduled meeting will be 7 p.m. Tuesday Feb. 17.

Posted in News0 Comments

Meeting Agendas for Saturday, February 7, 2015

BRIDGEPORT – The Bridgeport City Council has a special meeting 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 10, to discuss in closed session the city administrator position.

WEATHERFORD COLLEGE – The Weatherford College board meets 2 p.m. Thursday, Feb. 12, in the Doss Student Center on the Weatherford campus. Along with a host of reports, possible action items include adoption of 2015-16 tuition and fees, lab fees and academic calendar, and ordering an election for places 3, 4 and 5 on the board.

DECATUR – Decatur City Council will consider how to distribute hotel occupancy tax funds when they meet at 6 p.m. Monday, Feb. 9, at City Hall, 201 E. Walnut. The council will also look at bids for grounds maintenance services at Oaklawn Cemetery and consider approving a lease assignment at the airport. A report on police racial profiling, nomination to the board of directors for Wise County Appraisal District and street closure requests for two events – the Glitzy Girls Trailer Park April 11 and the Wise County Youth Fair kickoff parade Feb. 28 – are also on the agenda.

Posted in News0 Comments

Bridgeport City Council waits to award bid

More development is coming to Bridgeport’s downtown area – just not as soon as council members hoped.

In its meeting Tuesday night, the city council heard presentations from Halff Associates and the Bridgeport Economic Development Corp. on the Halsell Street Sidewalk Improvement Project and the 2014 Curb Improvement Project.

EDC Executive Director Sterling Flynn advised the council to not award a bid for the project until they had a more accurate cost estimate. They discussed the issue for about an hour but in the end decided to follow Flynn’s advice and wait.

The council will likely award a bid for the project during its March 17 meeting.

Plans to renovate downtown include an area for a farmers’ market and strip mall designed to draw more tourists to Halsell Street. Several council members voiced their support for the project, including David Correll, who owns a State Farm agency downtown.

“I’m all for it,” he said. “It’s almost an embarrassment how bad our downtown is.”

OTHER BUSINESS

The council also had two public hearings to amend the city’s zoning ordinance to allow manufactured homes to be placed on land zoned for single-family property. No action was taken due to lack of a motion.

The council’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Feb. 3, at City Hall, 900 Thompson St.

Posted in News0 Comments

Library fines, water signs ring in 2015 for council

The first thing the Bridgeport City Council voted on in 2015 was library fines – specifically, library fine forgiveness.

From Feb. 7-14, the Bridgeport Public Library will let patrons donate canned goods to have a portion of their fines removed. For every two, 16-ounce canned goods or 32 ounces of dried goods worth up to $10, the library will forgive $1 in fines.

The food collected will go to Bridgeport area food banks, such as Loaves and Fishes at the First United Methodist Church and the food pantry at the First Baptist Church.

Fines are 10 cents per item, per day they are late, except for movies. Those are $1 per item, per day.

“We have no idea on the exact amount of fines people owe, but this would give us an opportunity to help replenish local food banks,” Bridgeport librarian Cindy Macon said.

The motion passed 5-0.

Tuesday’s meeting also marked the first one since 2010 that Brandon Emmons was not sitting in the city administrator seat. That duty went to Chester Nolen, who took over as interim city administrator shortly after Emmons announced his retirement in October.

The council spent an hour in closed session discussing the city administrator position. No action was taken.

The council also:

  • approved an agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to display “Superior Public Water System” signs in the city. Bridgeport recently received a “Superior Public Water” rating from the state.
  • held a workshop item discussion on the Halsell Street Sidewalk Improvement Project that is set to begin this month. The project will enhance curbs and completely renovate the sidewalk on Halsell Street. However, no action was taken on awarding a bid for the project, as was originally stated on the agenda. That action will be moved to the council’s next meeting after more information is available.

The council’s next meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 900 Thompson St. and is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

Meeting Agendas for Saturday, January 3, 2015

BRIDGEPORT – The Bridgeport City Council will meet for the first time in 2015 at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 6, to discuss the Halsell Street Sidewalk Improvement Project. They will also consider awarding a bid for the same project and approving a sign agreement with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. The meeting is open to the public.

COMMISSIONERS – Wise County commissioners will meet 9 a.m. Monday, Jan. 5, in the third-floor conference room of the courthouse in Decatur. Commissioners will approve bonds for several county officials and will hear an update from the Wise County Elections Commission on the search for a new elections administrator.

Posted in News0 Comments

Bridgeport City Council quickly wraps up last meeting of 2014

The Bridgeport City Council’s last meeting of the year Tuesday night was short, sweet and to the point.

The council passed one motion, tabled another and had a brief discussion about improving drainage areas around Turkey Creek – all within 15 minutes.

A motion to approve a continued grazing contract on 226 acres near the airport in the J. Grunder Survey passed unanimously.

A motion to award a bid for the Halsell street sidewalk improvement project was tabled. Mayor Corey Lane suggested tabling the issue so more information could be gathered before the decision.

A brief workshop item – improving drainage areas around Turkey Creek – was discussed.

City attorney Rob Alison told the council before any action was taken, they would have to make sure the renovations would not have any impact on surrounding drainage areas.

“We can’t go around willy-nilly changing drainage structures,” Alison said.

The meeting closed with retiring City Administrator Brandon Emmons thanking the council for all of their hard work during his tenure. Tuesday night was his last council meeting with the city.

“It’s been a fun time, and I’ve learned some new skill sets that will help me in future endeavors,” Emmons said. “I also want to thank the entire staff that’s here tonight. We made a great team. We’ve accomplished quite a bit in the last four to five years, and that’s something I’m proud of.”

A retirement reception honoring Emmons was held yesterday at City Hall.

The council’s next meeting will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 20, at 900 Thompson St. It is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

City of Bridgeport delays wastewater contract, nixes food truck inspections

The Bridgeport City Council Tuesday delayed action related to its agreement with U.S. Water (USW) Utility Group.

A proposed amendment to the city’s agreement with the company would expand USW’s professional services to include the city’s wastewater treatment plant, but it was tabled after a city worker expressed concern about the issue.

City Councilman David Correll asked that the amendment be made into a workshop item to be discussed at the next meeting.

“My first concern is with the displaced employee,” he said.

The amendment should be on the council’s Dec. 2 agenda.

FOOD TRUCKS

Food truck regulations popped up again this week when the council voted to amend its Mobile Food Vendor Solicitation Code. The new amendment eliminates the need for local food truck vendors to get a health inspection by the city.

The decision was based on the fact that the state performs health inspections when it issues operating permits, and the city cannot currently afford to pay a health services employee to inspect food truck units.

The council also:

  • amended the FY 2014-15 budget to allow for the $129,857 needed to fund the search for Brandon Emmons’ replacement as city administrator and to fund a new street maintenance worker position;
  • refunded its Series 2005 Certificates of Obligations (COs) for total debt service savings of almost $160,000;
  • amended the “Bulky Waste Pickup” section of the city code to correct the monthly rate from $2.75 to $3.75;
  • approved a lease-purchase agreement with Government Capital Corp. for a new 2014 GapVax MC1007 Sewer Cleaning Truck, to be financed at an annual rate of $54,580.13 for seven years; and
  • officially entered into an agreement with Strategic Government Resources to provide an interim city administrator.

The council’s next meeting will be at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 2, at 900 Thompson St. and is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

Wise County Meeting Agendas for Saturday, November 15, 2014

CITY COUNCIL – The Bridgeport City Council will discuss 2014 bonds; the city’s agreement with the USW Utility Group; the possible purchase of a sewer cleaning truck; funding the search for Brandon Emmons’ replacement; and amending the city code to allow for inspection of food trucks at its meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at 900 Thompson St. It is open to the public.

BISD – The Bridgeport school board will discuss football field renovations and agriculture barn construction at its meeting 7 p.m. Monday at 2107 15 St. The meeting is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

Bridgeport City Council approves two Tahoes for police department

The Bridgeport City Council’s election night meeting had only one action item on its agenda, and it was all about police equipment.

The council voted 5-0 to approve a lease-purchase agreement between the Bridgeport PD and Government Capital Corp. for two police vehicles and their emergency equipment.

The vehicles, both Chevrolet Tahoes, and all necessary safety equipment will be financed through GCC at an interest rate of 3.983 percent, with payments of $19,449.17 every year for four years.

Other discussions turned to trash pickup and street repairs and maintenance within the city limits. Director of Transportation/Services Gary Barnett presented both discussions, which did not result in any action and were only on the agenda for informational purposes.

The trash pickup schedule for the city is as follows:

  • Monday and Tuesday – west side
  • Tuesday and Wednesday – portion of the city south of Cates Street
  • Wednesday and Thursday – portion of the city north of Cates Street and east of 16th Street
  • Thursday and Friday – portion of the city north of Cates Street and west of 16th Street

As for street repairs in the city, Barnett said the Street Department is operating less one person because of a workplace injury.

Following the workshop discussions, the council met in closed session to discuss the sale of the Rutherford Ranch property. No action was taken.

The council’s next meeting will be 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 18, at City Hall, 900 Thompson St. It is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

If you want a bid, attend a city council meeting

There’s an old saying that “80 percent of success is just showing up.”

If that’s true, it was in full force Tuesday night when the Bridgeport City Council awarded competitive bids to two groups who were in attendance that night.

The first, Century 21’s Sue Meek, was awarded a bid to sell property on the Rutherford Ranch after her profile was evaluated by the council. Meek was one of two possible Realtors at the meeting competing for the bid, and Mayor Corey Lane took notice.

“I think anyone looking for work who shows up here deserves our attention,” Lane said. Meek’s bid was approved 3-0-1, with Councilman Jimmy Meyers abstaining. Councilman Bobby Brazier was absent.

That same principle applied to landscaping companies looking to maintain properties that have recently been turned over to the city. Cut and Grow, Butch Haas and All-Wise Garden Center were all considered for the bid, but representatives from Cut and Grow were in attendance Tuesday night. Their attendance worked in their favor, too.

“Based on the precedence of people that are here getting the bid, I say give it to Cut and Grow,” Councilman David Correll said.

Cut and Grow’s bid was approved 3-1, with Meyers dissenting.

At the end of the meeting, following a one-hour closed session, City Administrator Brandon Emmons announced his intent to retire Dec. 26.

“About two weeks ago, I met with most of the council members and announced my intent to retire,” Emmons said. “I spent the last 20 years of my life in municipal government, and I’ve had the opportunity to retire early and explore some opportunities in the private sector. My last day will be Dec. 26, and I’ll be able to explore some of my passions, such as foreign travel and nonprofit work.”

Emmons said he’s also getting married next year, and although it’s an exciting time, he’s also nervous about the career change.

“The four-and-a-half years that I’ve lived in Bridgeport have been great, and we’ve accomplished a lot,” he said. “Over the next couple of weeks we’ll be holding some special meetings to discuss how to proceed after I leave.”

The council also:

  • amended the city’s fee schedule to include a Brewer’s Self Distribution Permit and Distiller’s Agents Permit fee.
    “We don’t really need the fees now, but it’s a good idea to go ahead and start implementing them should the need ever come up,” City Secretary Jesica McEachern said.
  • amended the fiscal year 2013-14 official budget to account for actual revenues and expenses and
  • listened to a presentation from Brian Haynes of Halff Associates on the city’s road improvement project. The project would improve the city’s roads over three phases through April 2016 and cost $4,390,000. A contractor for the project should be chosen in December.

The council’s next meeting will be a special session 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 28, to discuss Emmons’ replacement. The next regular meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 4. Both meetings will be at 900 Thompson St. and are open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

Meeting Previews for Saturday, October 18, 2014

BOYD

BOYD ISD – The Boyd School Board meets 6:30 p.m. Monday and plans to discuss approving a Boyd High School field trip to the FFA National Convention in Louisville Kentucky as well as construction plans for a show animal project facility. The board will also consider softball field renovations.

BRIDGEPORT

LICENSING LIQUOR – The Bridgeport City Council will discuss adding alcohol beverage licenses and fees to the city’s code of ordinances at its meeting Tuesday night. It will also discuss fiscal year 2013-14 budget adjustments; award a city landscaping bid to either All Wise Garden Butch Haas, or Cut and Grow; and consider a proposal for a real estate broker to sell Rutherford Ranch. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at City Hall, 900 Thompson St. and is open to the public.

SOCCER, ANYONE? – The Bridgeport School Board will discuss adding a soccer program to the high school at its meeting Monday night. The board will also hear reports on the dual-language program and the district’s Financial Integrity Rating System of Texas (FIRST) score. It will also continue earlier discussions about possible facility renovations. These include Bull Memorial Stadium and baseball dugout renovations, as well as the building of an agriculture science barn. The meeting is at 7 p.m. at 2107 15th St. and is open to the public.

PARADISE

PARADISE COUNCIL – The Paradise City Council meets 6 p.m. Monday to discuss street closures for the Jingle Run and a church-sponsored autumn event. The council will also decide whether or not to purchase a building and discuss road repair and the Wise County Appraisal District’s contract for billing and collection services.

PISD MEETING – The Paradise School Board will meet 6:30 p.m. Monday and plans to set a date to canvass the Nov. 4 election results and for the employee appreciation dinner. The board will also consider the district’s contract with Wise County Appraisal District for collections.

Posted in News0 Comments

Bridgeport City Council waives fees for nonprofits

The Bridgeport City Council waived two building rental fees and approved various contracts at its meeting Tuesday night.

The council approved rental fee waiver requests from CASA of Jack and Wise counties and the Wise County Quilt Guild for the use of the Bridgeport Community Center.

CASA will be using the facility for their Christmas party Dec. 12-13, and the Quilt Guild host their annual quilt show there next August.

The waivers prompted a discussion about whether the council should delegate fee-waiving decisions to other departments, such as the Parks department.

“If the organization is a nonprofit and they’re giving back to the community, then I think we need to let others make that decision, instead of [the council deciding],” councilman David Correll said.

Mayor Corey Lane agreed, and said moving the decision-making process to city staff would be beneficial for the community.

City Administrator Brandon Emmons began the meeting by presenting the budget variance report for August 2014. The city came in nearly $100,000 under budget for the fiscal year, spending a little more than $4.3 million of its $4.4 million budget.

The council also:

  • voted to temporarily close some streets in the Oakland Heights neighborhood on Halloween from 5 to 9 p.m. for the safety of trick-or-treaters;
  • approved an agreement with Sensus for the leasing of meter-measuring technology for the city;
  • approved a $3,228.50 increase to the city’s contract with the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) for the construction of a natural gas pipeline to the site of the future US Ply plant. The funds will come from the Bridgeport Economic Development Corporation (EDC);
  • approved a $49,900 increase to the city’s contract with the TDA for the construction of two water line improvements in the city, again to be funded by the EDC;
  • and discussed absorbing the Cultural Arts Board into the Parks Department or Main Street initiative, since the board has not been active for two years.

The council’s next meeting will be Tuesday, Oct. 21, at City Hall on 900 Thompson St. at 7 p.m. It is open to the public. Follow along on Twitter @JakeHarris4 for live updates as the meeting happens.

Posted in News0 Comments

Agenda Briefs for Saturday, October 4, 2014

BRIDGEPORT COUNCIL TO MEET – The Bridgeport City Council will discuss community center rental fees, Halloween road closures, radio-powered utilities measurements and natural gas and water line contracts at its meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at 900 Thompson Street. The meeting is open to the public.

SCHOOL BOARD TRAINING SET – The Bridgeport school board will conduct its “Team of 8″ training and consider and take action on certified personnel at its meeting Monday night at 7 p.m. at 2107 15th Street.

CHICO COUNCIL MEETS TUESDAY – The Chico City Council will meet at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, at City Hall. Agenda items include the Chicofest 5K route, Chicofest street closures, a lease/purchase of a backhoe, a purchase of a vehicle, a contract with the Wise County Appraisal District, various interlocal agreements with Wise County, a zoning change at 305 E. Kentucky and regular monthly reports.

P&Z COMMISSION TO MEET – Decatur’s Planning and Zoning Commission will meet 5:30 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 7, in the council chamber at City Hall. Replat applications from Brenda Scott, as well as feedback from the city council regarding variance requests to the city’s sidewalk, curb and gutter ordinances, and the handling of escrowed funds for those items, are among the items to be considered.

WEATHERFORD COLLEGE BOARD TO MEET – The trustees of Weatherford College, which operates a campus in Wise County, will meet 2 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 9, on the college’s main campus in Weatherford. Among the agenda items are reports on construction, enrollment and finances, contracts for printing, welding supplies, sonography and radiology equipment, policies and the annual evaluation of the college president, Dr. Kevin Eaton. The meeting is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

Bridgeport City Council sets tax rate, works on library flooding

Bridgeport has a tax rate for fiscal year 2014-2015.

Property owners in the city will pay 58.75 cents per $100 valuation after action at Tuesday’s meeting of the Bridgeport City Council.

This rate is the maximum the council could have voted on in the past, and it’s the same rate the city has had for the last eight years. It includes 30.03 cents for maintenance and operations, and 28.72 cents for debt payments.

The vote was 4-0, as Councilman David Correll was absent.

The council also heard presentations from two entities Tuesday night – the Bridgeport Public Library and Siemens Co.

Library board president Smith and director of library services Cindy Macon presented their case for renovations to the library’s roof, which has been leaking more lately due to recent rain.

“It leaks, but it’s not predictable and it never leaks in the same spot twice, so it’s hard to fight,” Smith said.

The library building was built in the 1970s, but wasn’t purchased by the city for use as a library until the 1980s. Since then, the library has had two roofs, according to city administrator Brandon Emmons.

“There’s been flooding by the doors, too, and that’s been going on for the last five years,” Smith said.

Emmons added that the city is planning to renovate the building this year as the budget allows, namely on the library’s front door. He said he would send someone to assess the building’s damage and see how it could be fixed.

The other presentation, from Siemens representative Chad Nobles, focused on the annual report of the city’s Performance Contracting Agreement with the engineering company.

The city has saved a little more than $137,000 since it entered into its contract with Siemens, he said. That includes new light fixtures on streets and lower-cost lighting in city buildings.

Other business:

  • The council approved an agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) aviation division for miscellaneous repairs and improvements on the airport. Speaking of the airport, there will be a pilots’ meeting at City Hall Monday at 2 p.m. to discuss the upcoming runway renovation.
  • The council approved a 36-month uniform rental agreement with G&K Services that will provide uniforms for field employees. The agreement will cost the city $5,788.64 per year.
  • An amended agreement between the Bridgeport Economic Development Corp. and Crisp Real Estate Partners, L.P. that clarified project expenses for a public access easement behind the Taco Bell on Highway 380 passed 4-0.

The council’s next regular meeting is Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at 900 Thompson Street. It is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

Council Previews for Saturday, September 13, 2014

BUDGET, AIRPORT IMPROVEMENTS GET CITY’S FOCUS - The Bridgeport City Council will adopt its 2014-2015 tax rate of $0.5875 per $100 valuation at its meeting Tuesday, 7 p.m. Sept. 16 at 900 Thompson Street. The council will also discuss a uniform rental agreement with G&K Services and consider an agreement with TxDOT’s aviation division for improvements and repairs to the Bridgeport Municipal Airport.

DUGOUTS, AG BARNS ON AGENDA - The Bridgeport ISD will meet 7:30 p.m. Monday night at 2107 15th Street. At the meeting, the board is expected to discuss baseball dugouts, agricultural science barns and electronic message boards for each campus.

CRIME LAB, RESIGNATION ON COMMISSIONERS’ AGENDA – Wise County Commissioners face a lengthy agenda when they meet at 9 a.m. Monday on the third floor of the courthouse in Decatur, among them a request from Sheriff David Walker to acquire a building to be used as a future crime lab, and a “notification letter” received from Election Administrator Lanny Noble “for his resignation.” Other agenda items include bids on property sold in the recent “struck off property” auction, a final plat for Montecito Estates, cleaning out county road right-of-way to improve public safety and a discussion of conditions that might call for renewing the county’s burn ban. The meeting is open to the public.

DECATUR SCHOOL BOARD MEETS MONDAY – Decatur ISD administrators will provide the school board with their district and campus improvement plans at Monday’s meeting. The consent agenda includes the usual monthly items as well as approval of out-of-state travel for the National FFA Convention. The superintendent’s communications include a report on resignations/new hires, principals’ reports, directors’ reports, enrollment report, the high school ag project center and bond election. The meeting will take place at the DISD Administration Building, 307 S. Cates with a closed session at 6 p.m. followed by the open session at 7.

CHICO SCHOOL BOARD MEETS MONDAY – The Chico School Board will consider the Dads for Dragons program at Chico Elementary School at Monday’s meeting. In addition to the routine monthly items, the board will consider the sale of real estate, designation of 4-H activities as extracurricular school events and Extension agents as adjunct staff members, and district goals for the 2014-2015 school year. A work session with WRA Architects will take place following the board meeting in the elementary library. The regular meeting is at 6:30 p.m. in Room 150 of Chico Elementary School, 1120 Park Road.

Posted in News0 Comments

Bridgeport runway closure raises concern

The Bridgeport City Council approved a participation agreement with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) Tuesday night for the construction phase of an Airport Improvement Project at Bridgeport Municipal Airport.

The project calls for remodeling the runway and parallel taxiways, installing new runway lights and moving a Chevron pipeline on the airport property.

But the year-long project may cause some headaches for pilots who use the airport and keep their planes there. The runway could be shut down for up to six months – something the council addressed in an open meeting with TxDOT, pilots and business owners Tuesday morning.

At that meeting, airport customers spoke with TxDOT representatives about possible plane storage and runway use during the closure. A significant amount of time was spent discussing how pilots might use alternative runways while the airport was shut down.

“What we’ve found is that there is a grassy area at the airport that is around 3,000 feet that planes could take off and land from,” TxDOT Aviation representative Bill Gunn said. “I would say, do it at your own risk and don’t make a habit out of it, and make sure it’s for use by the local folks only … If you keep it local with the [plane] owner’s permission, then the FAA won’t get involved.”

Gunn added that the city wouldn’t be held liable if an accident were to happen while pilots were utilizing the grassy area.

City Administrator Brandon Emmons said the city’s goal is to keep the runway open as long as possible.

“If there is need for local traffic to get in and out, we’ll make that happen,” Emmons said. “Right now, we’re looking at allowing flights for two hours pre-sunrise and two hours post-sunset. The grassy area wouldn’t be listed as a runway but would be available as an option.”

Emmons said pilots would still be able to use the hangars at the airport to store their planes.

There are other airports nearby, but hangar space is at a premium.

The construction phase on the airport project begins Oct. 6. The council will meet with pilots, TxDOT and other contractors Sept. 22 and 23 to further discuss how to proceed.

TRASH, GUNS AND ELECTRICITY

In other city council meeting news:

  • The council approved an amendment to the city’s agreement with Progressive Waste Solutions to raise the amount residents pay to have their trash and recycling collected by 22 cents. The old rate of $11.88 per resident, per month, is being increased to $12.11 per month to be in line with consumer price index standards. The rate will go into effect Oct. 1.
  • The Bridgeport Police Department now has new weaponry after the council approved $2,960 to purchase 17 Kimber .45 handguns from 2K Pawn and Gun – to replace old ones bought in 2004. After trading in the old guns, the money spent on the new ones will come from the court security fund, which gets $3 every time a defendant is convicted of a misdemeanor.
  • An amendment to lower the electric fees in the “Electric Schedule of Rates” section of the city’s code of ordinances was adopted after AEP reduced the city’s wholesale power costs. The amendment states the new electric rate for the upcoming fiscal year would be $0.1262 per kWh, down from the current $0.1291 per kWh that was established in February. The rate reduction would save residents up to $950,000 over the next four years, Emmons said.
  • An amendment to Section 9.403(b)(13) of the Code of Ordinances that clarified the city administrator’s job duties to “perform all duties as may be prescribed by the city council” passed 3-0, with Councilman Billy Fred Walker abstaining, after a 40-minute executive session. The previous version of the code had the mayor prescribing all duties.

“The way it was written, it had to be changed so that the decisions were made by the entire governing body of the council, so it was just an administration decision,” Emmons said.

  • The council also met in another executive session to discuss legal issues pertaining to the airport project at the end of the meeting.
  • A second public hearing on the 2014-2015 maximum tax rate of $0.5875 was held. The tax rate will go into effect Sept. 16.

The council’s next meeting is 7 p.m Sept. 16 at City Hall 900 Thompson Street and is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

Bridgeport City Council to talk trash at meeting

The Bridgeport City Council will consider approving an amendment to its waste collection agreement with Progressive Waste Solutions in its meeting Tuesday night. The proposed change would raise the price of waste collection 22 cents per resident and would be put into effect on Oct. 1 if approved.

There will also be a second public hearing on the proposed maximum property tax rate of $0.5875 per $100 valuation for the 2014-2105 fiscal year.

The council will also:

  • consider adopting an ordinance that would reduce the electric rate from $0.1291 per kWh to $0.1262 per kWh;
  • consider approving an agreement with Texas Department of Transportation for the airport improvement construction phase of the Bridgeport Airport;
  • consider using Court Security Fund money to purchase 17 Kimber .45 firearms from 2K Pawn and Gun for the Bridgeport Police Department; and
  • consider amending the Bridgeport Code of Ordinances to clarify the duties of the city administrator, the position currently held by Brandon Emmons.

The meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 2, at City Hall, 900 Thompson St. It is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

Bridgeport City Council to take action on food trucks Tuesday

The Bridgeport City Council will consider adopting an ordinance in its meeting Tuesday that would amend the city code to make it easier to operate food trucks within the city limits.

The issue was brought up at the council’s last meeting by Ryder Holley, who took issue with the fact that he had to move his Five Boys Ranch food truck every three hours just to comply with city ordinances.

Another item left over from last week’s meeting, Ken Kilpatrick’s sign ordinance amendment, will be discussed in a public hearing. Kilpatrick is asking the council to allow him to set up a pole sign at 1603 Chico Highway that would exceed the maximum gross surface area permitted.

The council will also:

  • hold its first public hearing on the proposed tax rate of $0.5875 per $100 valuation;
  • hold a public hearing to adopt the 2014-2015 fiscal year budget;
  • hear a presentation on the analysis of racial profiling statistics for police;
  • discuss the possibility of closing Bridgeport Municipal Airport during the runway extension project;
  • consider purchasing health and dental insurance from Blue Cross Blue Shield, vision insurance from Superior Vision and life insurance from Assurant;
  • consider adopting a resolution opposing the proposed rules on natural gas rates being considered by the Railroad Commission;
  • discuss the sale of approximately 225 acres in the Grunder and BBB & CRR surveys;
  • consider awarding a bid and entering into a contract for water line improvements with the 2013 Texas Community Development Block Grant Project No. 713050; and
  • consider approving a lease agreement between the city and Robert Chaney for a haunted house.

The meeting is 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 19, in Bridgeport City Hall, 900 Thompson St. It is open to the public.

Posted in News0 Comments

Login

Username:

Password:


Recover password | Create an Account