Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Marfa City Council notes 8/11/2015

City of Marfa regular Council meeting 8/11/2015
All present
Citizen Comments:
Numbers begin at 6 for this meeting; public hearing had earlier numbers assigned.
6) approve minutes of prior meetings.
7) Presentation from Texas Hotel and Lodging Association Re HOT taxes.
Briefing on hotel tax laws, etc.
Brian Sullivan presents.
Hotel tax is a dedicated tax. 2 steps to evaluate on proposed expenditures from fund. Must directly promote and enhance tourism and hotel occupancy.
A Tourist is anyone from outside the city or county.
2nd step is to fit expenditures into one of 8 categories
1) convention and tourist bureau centers.
2) registration of convention delegates. City staff help facilitate conferences is a good example. Hotel tax can be used.
3) Required minimum percentage to be spent on advertising and promotion. Minimum amount is 1/7 of total revenues.
4) Promotion of the arts. Events, etc. maximum is 15% of gross HOT taxes.
5) Historical restoration projects. Projects Should be portrayed historically.
6) Certain sporting events. Must substantially impact hotel occupancies. Majority of participants must be tourists as well.
7) Signage; signage that directs tourists to area attractions.
8) Transportation of tourists. To and from attractions, between attractions and hotels, etc.
The above are the approved categories for expenditures using HOT taxes.
Tourism and promotion is what this whole funding mechanism is about. 13% is the average hotel tax rate in Texas. Larger in big cities.
Teresa Todd asks about sporting events. Sullivan says if city anticipates major tourism influx from an event, HOT taxes can be used. Must meet first standard of heads in beds.
Permanent improvements to facilities not usually permitted under statute. When permitted, clawback clauses are in effect if anticipated hotel revenue falls short of covering bills. For larger cities only, Marfa too small to qualify.
Dunlap wants to know if there are legislative updates pertaining to Marfa in the last session. No changes that would impact Marfa, some that impact regarding larger communities. Dunlap says Convention Center now open 7 days.
End of presentation.
9) no Mayor's Report
10) City Administrator's Report: Water well #3 back up and running. Have received the USDA packet for grant award for just over $600,000 for St George water and street improvements. Still no environmental impact, approval, etc. work is still on hold.
WTG gas contract signed by Mayor for next year's gas supply.
Received right of way from West Stripes for new line behind Stripes, which has encroached on City property. Gas line under encroachment.
Library project still waiting. Benning Construction miscommunication. No contract at this point. Contract still possible.
11) Republic Services contract amendment: trash service. Republic wants to amend. Republic's position is that CPI escalator has two provisions that council can approve or disapprove and if they don't , Republic can walk.
Automatic CPI escalator, fuel price escalator, tipping fee escalator. They say they are subject to a "trash industry CPI" and not the normal CPI. 4.5% increase. City of Marfa has been going by actual CPI, which is less. Their "compromise position" is that the city can agree to a 3.5% increase per year! the everything OK. Current contact runs through 2018. If city council does not agree, then Republic can amend the contract to include the special trash collection CPI. If city compromises, no increase this year, and then no increases beyond 3.5% for the next years until contract end.
Teresa Todd says contract we have goes by CPI. Are they going to terminate contract if we don't bend on it? Mustard says that for next year Republic is entitled to 1% increase. With new deal zero increase for next year only. If city goes with new deal, no more fuel surcharge, tipping fee penalty, etc on contract through 2018 as long as city goes for 3.5% increase. Could be a good deal for City. Todd says to be sure any motion includes amendment orally made by rep that first year costs nothing extra.
New Business:
A) Public hearings, meetings and workshops confining budget and proposed tax rates.
B) Texas Water Development Board Loan closing requirement for SWIFT project. Funding for well drilling. Mustard says not ready for submission to Council yet.
C) Discussion with action as appropriate for bids for paving Austin St. Mustard says not yet ready to publish and take bids. Certain details on related work not yet done. Josie makes motion to ask for bid proposals; includes original scope of paving projects. Unanimous.
D) Discussion with possible action to purchase Kubota RTV 400 has powered utility vehicle for City Tourist and Convention Center. This vehicle would be used to pull a train for kids and adults to ride in. Old Lions Club train, old locomotive eventually died. Lions Club is disbanded and has donated train to City, city can buy new 4 wheeler or utility vehicle to pull train and use for other things as well, including trash bag service for city barrels. Johnson Feed is a member of BuyBoard, no other bids needed. Will be street legal, licensed and insured. Can use to drive tourists around as well. All funds to come from Hotel Motel taxes. Turn signals and strobe lights are options Dunlap recommends. $9,411.00
Josie makes motion, Genevieve seconds. Manny says money could be spent more wisely. Josie says better to spend it on something we can have than on something like a party or sending it somewhere else. Josie wants it not to be orange. Mustard likes visibility. Unanimous except for Manny. Dunlap says Manny doesn't get to ride on it. Laughter.
E) Amendment #1 to 2014-2015 budget. Year to date line item actual to last year's budget. Projected actuals used for end of year amounts, amendment makes up difference. 10 months into FY 2015 actuals available. Amendment reflects foreseen realities for all 12 months of FY 2014-15. Dunlap says auditors are just as interested in budgeted revenues as budgeted expenses. Municipal court far exceeding budgeted revenue. EMS revenue has changed due to disruptions in collections for Medicare/Medicaid. Library expansion has not been completed as planned, hopefully be able to spend at least half by end of year. Hotel tax revenue projected to be $54,000 more than budgeted. Manny asks about a booth for TML. Not effective in the past, says Dunlap per S McGehee. Manny asks about historical preservation monies, etc. re: Building 98, airport improvements. MAC building space rental: state may move.
Adjustments to grants: water line rehab grant added. Extra $102,417. Street improvement grants: several adjustments, fine tuning. Depreciation expense: not budgeted for last year, numbers added this year, fairly large.
Gas company. $99,500.00 meter fee bump cold winter. Bottom line on gas co just over $22,000 net.
Josie makes motion to approve. Unanimous.
F) July accounts payable and revenue/expenditure reports
$1044 for Marfa motor parts. Truck repairs, batteries for equipment. Unsure on details says Mustard. Manny moves to approve. Unanimous.
Adjourn at 7:46

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