Bridgeport City Council extends electricity contract in hopes of rate reduction

On multiple occasions, Bridgeport Mayor Keith McComis has voiced his opposition to long-term contracts – except when it translates to a reduction in costs.

Following a closed session Tuesday, the council unanimously approved extending the wholesale power contract with AEP through 2018.

“In return we hope to see a reduction in cost,” McComis said. “As soon as we get the paperwork signed, we could start seeing a reduction anywhere from 7 to 10 percent this first year. Over the three remaining years in the contract, it could be anywhere from a 2 to 5 percent decrease, depending on the cost of gas prices and other factors like that.

“We did get what I thought was fair.”

STREET CLOSURES

During its meeting, the council approved temporarily closing 10th Street north of Halsell Street 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, for the Wellness For Life Mobile Screening event.

The event is from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. The additional time allows for setup and breakdown.

Texas Health Harris Methodist Hospital will park a mobile health screening unit that will provide mammograms, well-woman exams and take-home colon screenings. There will also be a walk-through colon exhibit.

Screenings are for all citizens, with or without insurance. Financial assistance is available for those without it.

To check for eligibility or to make an appointment, call 855-318-7696.

At the request of councilman Jimmy Meyers, officials discussed bypassing the council in approving street closures for city-related events, instead granting the authority to the city’s special events committee, which includes the director of parks and recreation, the Main Street/community relations manager, the GIS analyst, the director of transportation/airport services, and the chief of police.

“It just seemed like there was something every week, and it didn’t seem like it was a big deal, so why bring it?” Meyers said.

However the majority of the council said they appreciated knowing what was going on on Main Street and liked the ordinance as it was.

“It doesn’t take that much time,” Councilman A.Z. Smith said. “I’ve got plenty of time.”

No action was taken and the procedure remained unchanged.

IN OTHER NEWS

The council also:

  • appointed Councilman Smith to assist the economic development corp. board of directors in the hiring of an executive director.
  • approved disbursing $7,500 in Hotel Occupancy Tax dollars to the Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo committee, for advertising and marketing of the rodeo, to be held in May. Rodeo organizers at the meeting reported that last year’s event drew 1,600 spectators and 600 entries from 32 states, and was named among the top 10 small rodeos in the country by the PRCA.
  • increased the fees for the recording of plats by $30 for a single-page plat and $50 for a two-page plat, after the county clerk’s office raised its prices.
  • added microchipping pets to its list of services. Through Home Again, the city will offer the service for $19.99 per pet for Bridgeport residents and $24.99 per pet for non-residents. “If it makes (the animal control officer’s) job easier, and it helps somebody get back to their pet, I’m all for it,” said Mayor McComis.
  • re-enrolled as a Texas Main Street City at a cost of $535, which includes trainings for Main Street Manager Amber Fogelman.
  • OK’d the Jan. 7 meeting minutes; and
  • reviewed the Jan. 9-22 payment report in the amount of $813,527.88.

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Bridgeport council to discuss electricity contract, street project

Streets, electricity and personnel top the agenda of the Bridgeport city council’s meeting Tuesday.

During a workshop at the beginning of the meeting, the council will hear an update from the Economic Development Corp. board of directors on the search for an executive director. William Myers resigned from the post in December to take a similar job in Denison.

In a workshop toward the end of the meeting, officials will further discuss the Halsell Street sidewalk project and a list of recommendations by the Main Street Board. City staff have met with Halff Associates to devise a project schedule and price estimate.

Officials will discuss making changes to several ordinances, including manufactured housing, animal control fees, plat fees and street closure authorization.

The council will meet in closed session to discuss the wholesale electricity contract.

IN OTHER NEWS

The council will also consider:

  • temporarily closing 10th Street at Halsell Street 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, for the Wellness For Life Mobile Screening event;
  • dispersing $7,500 in Hotel Occupancy Tax dollars to the Butterfield Stage Days Rodeo committee, for advertising and marketing of the rodeo, to be held in May;
  • re-enlisting as a Texas Main Street City;
  • the Jan. 7 meeting minutes; and
  • the Jan. 9-22 payment report in the amount of $813,527.88.

The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., will be held at City Hall, 900 Thompson St.

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Bridgeport City Council to consider election, associated signage

The Bridgeport City Council will vote on a pair of political issues at its meeting Tuesday.

Officials will consider calling the May 10 general and special elections. The general election will be held to elect the positions of mayor and place 1 and 2 on the council, while the special election will determine a successor for place 3.

Jimmy Meyers was appointed to the post in August to fill a vacancy created when Kevin Lopez resigned. According to local government code, the person appointed to fill the vacancy serves until the next regular election.

During a workshop session, the council will discuss amending political sign regulations.

In accordance with House Bill 259, which was signed into law during the 83rd regular legislative session, electioneering is now allowed near polling places. However, provisions allow the entity owning the building to enact “reasonable regulations” in regard to the time, place and manner of electioneering.

Council will discuss the regulations it would like to enact.

The council will also consider:

  • an airport hangar lease transfer from Crisp Real Estate Partners LP to Ron Rieman;
  • the minutes from the Dec. 3 and Dec. 17 meetings; and
  • the Dec. 19-Jan. 8 payment report in the amount of $186,564.69.

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Council to award bids for parks, theatre

A couple of facilities in Bridgeport will soon get a facelift.

At its meeting Tuesday, the city council will consider awarding bids for improvements to Lawdwin Ball Fields and Bridgeport Stage, as budgeted for in workshops held this summer.

The council will also consider purchasing portable credit card machines for the parks and recreation department and a mini-digger derrick for the utilities department – items which were discussed in budget workshops.

During its meeting, the council will also hold two public hearings – one which will be the second reading on the juvenile curfew discussed at the council’s last meeting.

The other is a request for an exception to the ordinance that limits the number of driveways per single-family property to two. The owners seek permission to install a circle driveway – which would add two driveway entrances – to a property that already has a driveway.

The council will also consider:

  • extending a contract with Wise County Appraisal District for the assessment and collection of city property taxes in 2014,
  • authorizing the mayor, city administrator, city secretary and director of financial services to sign contractual documents associated with the Texas Community Development Block Grant Program for the reconstruction of certain water lines,
  • establishing direct deposit for the aforementioned grant project,
  • approving the minutes of meetings on Nov. 5, Nov. 18, Nov. 19 and Nov. 21, and
  • reviewing the Dec. 5-18 payment report in the amount of $570,605.50.

The meeting, which begins at 7 p.m., will be held in the council chambers at 900 Thompson St.

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Council opts to ‘re-light’ downtown

All will be merry and bright in downtown Bridgeport after all.

City officials had opted not to replace bulbs in downtown Christmas lights this year, citing a liability.

But after fielding various complaints from downtown merchants and after an alternative plan yielded no better results, staff will hang lights and other decorations on Halsell Street.

After a request from Councilwoman Kathy Kennedy, city officials sought bids for hanging Christmas lights on select city buildings and erecting a community Christmas tree.

But returning quotes totaled $14,500 for lights and from $10,550 to another $14,000 for the tree, not including labor from city staff.

“I like the town lit up as much as anybody,” Councilman Bobby Brazier said. “But not for that much money.”

Instead, officals opted to set a limit of $5,000 for decorations for the 26 lighted poles on Halsell Street. In addition, the city’s utility department will replace light bulbs on the existing strands of lights that outline downtown buildings.

“My intent, whenever I asked for us to look at this, was to do something that would unify the community,” Kennedy said. “… If we go ahead and put the lights up like we’re talking about, put up decorations like we normally do and not spend that $20,000 … that would serve that purpose.”

CITY CHANGES ENGINEER

Council members also met for special meetings Monday, Tuesday before the regular meeting and Thursday to interview prospects for legal and engineering services.

After interviewing three candidates Monday, the council voted to retain the services of Taylor, Olson, Adkins, Sralla and Elam (TOASE) for city attorney.

The motion was made by Brazier and seconded by Jimmy Meyers. The motion carried 4-0 with A.Z. Smith abstaining.

On Tuesday before the meeting and Thursday, the council met with eight prospects for engineering services. After interviews on Thursday, Brazier motioned to change to Half Associates Inc. Meyers seconded, and the motion carried 4-0.

IN OTHER NEWS

During their regular meeting Tuesday, the council also:

  • awarded to Driver Pipeline a $258,447.40 bid for the construction of a natural gas pipeline to the future U.S. Ply plant site. It will be paid for with a Texas Capital Fund grant.
  • instated a fee of $50 in addition to the normal single lot fee of $450 for single lots to be converted to a double-casket lot at East Side Cemetery.
  • cast 42 votes for each Ray Cook Jr. and Mike Hurd to the Wise County Appraisal District board of directors.
  • changed the zoning of four lots in the 1800 block of 9th Street from single-family residential to manufactured housing district after a public hearing drew no comment.
  • approved an interlocal agreement with the county to provide fire protection and first responder services to designated unincorporated areas. In turn, the county compensates the fire department $4,200 a month.
  • awarded a $1,500 facade grant to The Hope Chest to help with the expense of removing the existing slip cover, restoring the transom windows, installing an awning and repointing the brick that was damaged in a storm in the summer of 2012.
  • disbursed $2,000 in hotel occupancy tax dollars to the high school boys basketball booster club to advertise for the Christmas Invitational Tournament to be held during the winter break.
  • authorized the temporary closure of Halsell Street between 9th and 16th streets 5:15 to 7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 14, for the lighted Christmas parade.
  • reviewed the Nov. 7-20 payment report in the amount of $630,479.12.

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