Paradise City Council addresses billing concerns

The Paradise City Council approved three motions Monday night that were later nullified after council members consulted with City Attorney Walt Leonard.

The motions made were in response to public outcry over a recent disruption in water service. In September, water services were disconnected for 26 people following non-payment. Some of the citizens affected complained their bills had not arrived on time.

Currently, Paradise mails out water utility bills on the first of each month and payment is required by the 15th. After the 15th, a late fee is charged and payment is then required by the end of the month or water services are shut off.

According to the city, materials required for the billing process were not delivered to the city secretary Teresa Moody on time and bills were sent on the 15th. Late fees were waived but final payment was still required by the end of the month.

Several complained their water was shut off without enough notification and couldn’t be turn back on for 24 hours. The current process for shutting off water is to do so at the end of the city’s business day. It can turned back on the next day after 3 p.m.

The reason for the 24-hour delay is that the city does not employ water service personnel, but instead shares one part-time person through an agreement with the Walnut Creek Special Utility District.

In response to these complaints, councilmen Brad Largent and Bill Schneck suggested adjusting the time of cutoff and adding a part-time employee to return services immediately upon payment. They also suggested the city send out a final letter informing customers their services would be stopped for non-payment.

Paradise accepts payment via check, money order or online debit.

Motions to enact those changes were made and voted on, but since they were not specifically on the agenda, they were later invalidated. November’s agenda will have a properly worded item to allow the council to discuss and vote.

Other business:

  • The council approved street closures for a church-sponsored fall festival this Sunday and PISD’s annual Jingle Run Dec. 7.
  • Paradise city staff was authorized to negotiate a right-of-way agreement for construction of Dollar General.
  • The renewal of the road repair interlocal agreement with Wise County was tabled, citing needed clarification on whether any services will be rendered by the county.
  • The council also tabled any discussion on altering what day it meets. Steel suggested the meeting return to Thursday nights. Council meetings were changed to Monday nights to accommodate Schneck’s schedule, but he plans to leave the council at the end of the year.
  • The council requested information on possibly hiring a code enforcement officer or police officer. The council wanted to understand what cost they would incur and whether a court would be needed to enforce the officer’s actions.

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Meeting Previews for Saturday, October 18, 2014


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.


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 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.

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Paradise City Council adopts budget, tax rate

Paradise property owners won’t see an increase in city taxes this year. The city council Monday night voted to stay with a tax rate of 33.9 cents per $100 valuation.

That means homeowners with a house worth $100,000 can expect to pay $339 in city taxes. The only reason that would go up would be if someone added to the value of their property.

The council also adopted its 2014-15 budget of $220,360.

The new budget raises about $20,000 more than the prior year. Nearly half of the new revenue comes from new property added to the city tax rolls this year.

The council held a public hearing prior to considering the budget and tax rate, but no one attended. In fact, only three of the five council members – Bob Gayan, Roy Steel and Terre Ward – made up the meeting’s quorum. Brad Largent and Bill Schneck were absent.

A previously called November election for Largent’s and Schneck’s seats was canceled, as no one filed to run against Largent or to fill Schneck’s spot. Schneck didn’t refile but will continue to serve until after a new council member is appointed by the council in November.

This is the second time the Paradise City Council has had to cancel a called election. No seats have been contested since 2012, when Gayan retained his position on the council against Chris Hill, Largent went unchallenged and Schneck took Place 1.


  • The council approved a 1.9 percent rate hike for Progressive Waste Solutions.
  • The city renewed its animal control contract with Wise County.
  • The city discussed updating its emergency response protocol to include what to do in case of a bomb threat in Paradise ISD. A recent threat at the junior high campus prompted an evacuation of the school and a search by law enforcement.

While parents and legal guardians were informed, city residents living near the school were unaware of the threat.

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Paradise City Council election in the air

Paradise City Council places 1, 2 and 3 are up for grabs this year, but only two incumbents have filed and no challengers.

Bob Gayan and Brad Largent filed for re-election, but Bill Schneck did not. The filing deadline was 5 p.m. Monday, but people can still file as a write-in candidate through 5 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22.

Monday evening, the council called the Nov. 4 election and agreed to partner with Wise County to hold the voting. If no one else files, the election will be canceled, and Schneck’s seat will be filled by appointment. Gayan and Largent would be automatically re-elected.

The council also agreed to assist the Paradise Youth Recreation Association, PYRA, with refurbishing and upgrading the city’s ballfield restrooms.

The council committed about $3,900 – 75 percent of the $5,200 cost quoted by PYRA leader Jodi Messenger. The organization leased the ballfields and took over maintenance in 2012. Messenger said the association didn’t have enough money to do all the work needed. She said the money raised would go to mostly pay for new, higher-quality fixtures.

Other business:

  • Council members agreed to extend a service agreement with AriCanopy and Sky Beam for three more years.
  • The council moved about $90,000 into CDs.

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Paradise agenda item raises a stink

The City of Paradise has a smelly situation to deal with.

At the council meeting Monday, City Secretary Teresa Moody will talk to the council about an odor problem at City Hall.

Also during the meeting, James Armstrong will share with the concil his plans for the 102 N. Oak property, and Randy Lanier will give a presentation on AFLAC.

The council will also schedule a budget workshop.

As the planning and zoning comission, city officials will consider the replat of the Methodist church.

In routine business, the council will consider meeting minutes and financials reports and hear an update from the building and water departments and economic development corp.

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Paradise City Council to hear updates on sewer, store

During a relatively short agenda for its meeting Monday, the Paradise City Council will receive a couple of important updates.

City officials are scheduled to hear about progress on a sewer system and on work to expand a road to accommodate an anticipated Dollar General.

The council will also consider remodeling the city’s storage area.

They will also consider minutes, a financial report and reports from the economic development corp., the planning and zoning commission, the building department, the water department and code enforcement.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall. It is open to the public.

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Council to consider rates, contract

Topping a short agenda for Monday’s Paradise City Council meeting is consideration of an increase in the rate the city charges telecommunications providers for right-of-way access in the city.

The Public Utility Commission adjusts the rate for inflation every year. Last year, the city of Paradise opted not to raise the rates. This year, the PUC is allowing cities to raise the rate by .78 percent due to inflation – but again, the council can choose to retain the old rate.

If the council approves, the rates would increase from .15 cents to .24 for residential customers; from .36 cents to .45 for non-residential; and from .55 cents to .68 for point-to-point customers.

City officials will also:

  • consider extending a contract with USW Utility Group for water services;
  • as the planning and zoning commission, consider variance requests by Rusty Mann;
  • hear from Linda Turpin about a lack of supervision during fundraisers on Main Street;
  • proclaim May 9 as Butterfield Stage Days Karl Klement RAM PRCA Rodeo Pink Night and recognize April as National Safe Digging Month; and
  • consider the March meeting minutes and financial reports.

The meeting begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall.

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Paradise City Council OKs Little Library

When school libraries close for the summer, students in Paradise have no public access to books.

That may soon change.

At the Paradise City Council meeting Monday, Paradise Intermediate School librarian Terri Gilley talked to council members about establishing a Little Free Library at City Hall.

Little Free Library is an organization that promotes reading among people of all ages by encouraging community members to purchase or build a small ‘library’ or book receptacle to put outside a public building or home.

Anyone from the neighborhood and town can come by and drop off old or gently used books. In turn, anyone can come pick one up.

According to City Secretary Teresa Moody, having garnered the council’s approval, Gilley is to fill out the required paperwork and will then look for someone to build the “little library.”

She hopes it’s up by summertime.


Also during the one-hour meeting, the council:

  • approved applying to the state grant cycle for assistance in repairing roads. “On some roads, any work that’s been done has been patching a patch that was patched on top of another patch,” Moody said. “We’ll need to tear up the road and start from scratch.”
  • heard an update from Paradise Youth and Recreation Association President Jamie Cook on improvements made to Leone Park.

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Council hears positive audit report

The financial situation in Paradise is a little like the city’s name implies.

At Monday’s city council meeting, Carl Deaton, an independent auditor, presented a “very good” audit report to the council.

“Every year we’re in better shape,” said city secretary Teresa Moody. “We have enough funds to cover two-and-a-half years’ worth of expenses. We’re doing really good.”

Later in the meeting, the council discussed investing some of those funds into certificates of deposit but opted to hold off on that until a certain project is completed.

City officials plan to expand a road adjacent to the property where a Dollar General is expected to be established.

“They want to wait until we have a better idea of what that’s going to cost us,” Moody said. “We’ve had some people say they don’t feel it’s the city’s responsibility to expand the road, but really it is in the city’s interest to do it. We can get more property tax, it adds a water customer and it will generate sales tax.”

The council also:

  • raised its water tap installation fees. Cost to put in a 1-inch meter increased to $1,400 from $850, and the 2-inch $2,500 from $1,750. “The last one we did, we lost quite a bit of money because the materials cost so much,” Moody said.
  • reported that a leak in front of the intermediate school had been fixed. “Initially we thought it was packing that needed to be tightened, but it turned out being valves that had gone bad,” Moody said. “So it was a little more of an issue, but it’s been fixed.”
  • learned city staff had received a list of the customers hooked up to the school’s sewer system so the city could start billing them. “The reason the school asked us to take over them is if (the customers) don’t pay, we can cut off the water. The school has no way to do it,” Moody said. “Some have not paid in three or four years.”
  • heard no new information on a city sewer system, but officials hope to receive an update at next month’s meeting.

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Paradise City Council to hear audit report

Carl Deaton, an independent auditor, will present the annual audit report to the Paradise City Council Monday.

The report will cover fiscal year 2013, which ended Sept. 30.

Also at the meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, the council will hear a billing update on customers on the school’s sewer system and consider changing water tap installation fees.

During the secretarial portion of the meeting, councilmembers will consider investing excess funds.

In routine business, the council will approve financials and hear reports from the Economic Development Corp., the planning and zoning commission and the building and water departments.

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Paradise city council declares 2014 ‘year of the Bible’

Paradise residents are encouraged to read their Bibles – not at the prompting of a local pastor but rather city officials.

At its meeting Monday, the city council unanimously declared 2014 the “Year of the Bible” at the request of resident Jan Pierce.

Pierce referred to the document as a “recommendation,” rather than a proclamation.

“(This) will recommend that the people of Paradise, Texas, study the teachings of the Holy Bible not only for personal growth in the knowledge of right and wrong, but also learn to apply principles of good governance for their local government, whether in the house, school house, church house or city hall house,” Pierce said. “Nothing denotes the establishment of religion but rather the free exercise of it, according to the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.”

Modeled after the proclamation made recently by Flower Mound Mayor Tom Hayden, the document adopted by the Paradise council reads:

“Throughout the history of the United States, one of the most important influences that has shaped our country into a distinctive nation, none may have been more profound or enduring than the Bible …

“Our nation was not founded on any particular religious faith, nor is it mandated by any Government in the United States that any individual should observe a particular religion; however, the fiber of our Founding Fathers and the people that have made up our nation, from all walks of life, have expressed their deeply held Christian beliefs …”

The “recommendation” went on to quote several key historical figures such as John Jay, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, and Francis Scott Key, who penned the “Star-Spangled Banner.”

The document continues, “Today our country, states, cities and towns are faced with many challenges beyond our own abilities but require wisdom, grace and compassion from God … ”

It ends by “encouraging all residents in their own way to examine the principles and teachings found in the Bible so that our Republic is sustained by good government.”

As in Flower Mound, the proclamation generated a mixed response, and several expressed their opinions on the Messenger’s Facebook page.

“I hope that all Wise County councils will follow suit,” wrote Mary Haynie. “Many of the county’s schools and teams have religious values, and this will only instill in them that they do have a right to stand up for what they believe.”

Others disagreed.

“You cannot ignore the separation of church and state, regardless if you believe the moral fibers of your religion will encompass overall good, when instilled upon all,” Leddy Foster wrote. “To do so is ignorance at its finest, and to back intolerance. We the people, must respect all rights of others, especially as a governing body. How anyone can support this is beyond my comprehension.”


Although there was no progress to report on a future water system, city officials assured the council that the idea is “very much alive.”

“Don’t let this thing die,” said building inspector Jerald Stinnett. “It is a beating to try to design water wells in the city that follow the rules on setbacks on property.”

However, city secretary Teresa Moody added that the city had hit a road bump.

“It may not be dead, but it’s unfunded,” she said. “We’ve been told we don’t have the money to put in a system through town.”

But officials say they are “still looking into” their options.

“We need it bad,” Councilman Roy Steel said.


During the meeting, the council also:

  • learned that Dollar General officials have “signed the contract” to bring the variety store to town.
  • saw a sample of the green banners that are to be hung down Main Street and around the schools, courtesy of the Economic Development Corp.
  • approved the December meeting minutes and financial report.

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Steel is mayor pro tem

For the second consecutive year, the Paradise City Council appointed Roy Steel as mayor pro tem.

The item was one of four motions made during the council’s short meeting Monday.

Council members approved a contract with Wise County Appraisal District for the assessing and collecting of property taxes. They also OK’d the November meeting minutes and financial reports.

The council’s next meeting is 6 p.m. Monday, Jan. 20, at City Hall.

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Sewer system tops discussion

Sewer system issues comprised a bulk of the Paradise City Council meeting Monday, but little was changed.

The council met in executive session for two matters – to talk to their utility attorney and to discuss the acquisition of real property. Neither drew any action in open session.

However, the council did approve an access easement for Paradise ISD water lines. The agreement must be approved by the school district before it is official. It gives city officials a legal right to access water meters.

Officials also OK’d the changes to the agreement with the school district for the collection of sewer fees. The document was approved at the council’s last meeting and forwarded to school district officials for their approval.

The council didn’t take any action on the development of a contract with PISD to provide wastewater treatment services for district buildings and related facilities.

“We’re still trying to work with the school,” city secretary Teresa Moody said. “We’re to the point where we’re trying to determine what we’re willing to do and what we expect them to do, and then start negotiating.”

The council also:

  • temporarily added $500 to water tap installation fees. Next month, the council will look at a permanent fee change.
  • opted not to make any changes to the policy in place for animal control services. Citizens must go through City Hall to have animals picked up by Wise County Animal Control. City staff calls animal control for animals that are menacing, making threats or destroying property. The shelter charges $50 for each animal that is picked up.
  • hired Hankins, Powers, Eastup, Deaton and Tonn to conduct the annual audit for $7,500 and Texas Tank Services to conduct the water tower inspection for $289.
  • granted the EDC permission to paint the fire hydrants silver with green caps and tops “to promote school spirit.”
  • issued a mobile food vendor permit for a food trailer on Texas 114.
  • approved a $68,936.61 budget for the Economic Development Corp.
  • approved the October financial report and meeting minutes.

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City, school district continue sewer talk

In the wake of voters’ rejection of a school bond that would have allowed Paradise ISD to update its wastewater plant, Paradise city officials will continue talking with school district officials on what to do about wastewater.

At its meeting Monday, the council will outline a proposed contract with the school district to provide wastewater treatment services to district buildings and facilities.

As one step in that direction, the council will consider approving access easement agreements for PISD water lines.

Council members will also hear an update on an agreement with the school district regarding the collection of sewer fees.

Halfway through the agenda, the council is scheduled to meet in closed session with its attorney.

During the open portion of the meeting, the council will also:

  • select a firm to conduct the city’s annual audit and another to inspect the water tower;
  • discuss fees for animal control services, mobile food vendor permits and water-tap installation;
  • hear from the Paradise Historical Society regarding a historical marker;
  • review the EDC’s budget;
  • consider purchasing a lighted sign for the school zone; and
  • permit the EDC to paint fire hydrants.

The meeting, which begins at 6 p.m. at City Hall, is open to the public.

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