Notes on Marfa City Council Meeting Tuesday July 10th, 6 PM, Marfa City Hall
Council members present: Manny Baeza, Brit Webb, Irma Salgado, Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger, Natalie Melendez.
Absent: Buck Johnston
Meeting convened at 6:00 PM
Dogs: says that there is not info about registration of dogs.
Small sentence about keeping dogs under control.
Asks council to exercise some mild expansion of pet ordinances dealing with number of pets one can own and no they could be constrained.
Has done some research on other cities regarding how many pets one can take care of and what mix of pets before pets and neighbors are affected negatively.
Gives example of next door neighbor with many animals that are loose and breeding, neglected in some ways.
Not advocating for strict restrictions, looking for some guidelines.
Another citizen says that this particular neighbor keeps them up at night, much nose with animals.
City Atty Teresa Todd says that she will be looking into this issue this summer.
Will bring something solid to city council in the fall.
Shawn Smith says that the fall sounds like a lifetime away for those of us who have major issues with pets and animal issues.
Says that he had a meeting with city admin Brechtel and she stormed out of the room and dismissed him.
Says that he has a pile of letters regarding pets and animals in his neighborhood and with regard to him. He feels he is being picked on by being branded as a complainer.
Wants to have an item regarding being picked on.
Mary Lou Saxon: says that she was nearly attacked by mean dogs in the back of pickup trucks and believed she was going to be attacked walking her dog. It could have gone really badly.
Josef Ben Yehuda thanks the city staff for agendas being provided in a timely fashion. Requests more information about the agenda items and materials.
Shawn Smith would like to have radio station broadcast meetings.
Laurel Coniglio tanks Peggy and everyone who helped with the tire cleanup.
Item 4: minutes. Approved unanimously.
Item 5: Mayors Report:
Thanks volunteers and city staff for making tire cleanup possible. Great turnout, great community effort with every part of the community represented.
1900 Tire’s were collected by over 40volunteers. Also, recycling center staff is doing a dynamite job.
Tomorrow wed 11 there will be a presentation about hotel occupancy tax grants. Public meeting. Six pm.
Parks and Rec Dept is having a meeting and proposal is to close the main entrance to Coffield park to facilitate a soccer field there. Mayor encourages participation. Coffield park is highest use park. Meeting will be at Coffield.
July 17th will be first budget meeting. Budget will be presented. 6 PM.
Planning and Zoning meeting also that night.
Item 6: no police report tonight
Item 7: city manager report:
Echos tire disposal sentiments. Visited with UP RR. Work will be done on ties. Closing some streets, work will be done at night. Locations are at crossings primarily.
As soon as dates are available for any closures they will be publicized. Next four to eight days work will begin.
City has been working with tax collection agency. Water bills, taxes, will pursue action if no responses.
Manny asks if an accountant will be hired soon. Brechtel says that current Dan Dunlap is now on contract and city is advertising for position.
Item 8: no council member comments
Item 9: council member orientation. Natalie says that Open Meetings Act training has been completed. She also signed up for TML new council training in August.
Item 10- Hotel Motel tax committee. Seven member committee.
Letters of interest have been submitted. Mayor say in response to question from Salgado if members must be residents.
Emma Rogers, Deidre Heisler, Susan Kerr (sp?), Emily Williams, Vickie Barge, Craig Hocker, Tom Eden.
Mayor says that having objective folks is very important. Any conflicts of interest will need to be addressed. Talk about this and potential for interest and recusals.
Deidre has historic preservation experience.
Mayor asks council how they would like to proceed.
Need six members.
Citizen at large: Tom Eden (lives in Houston), Craig Hocker. Craig confirmed as choice.
Tourism: Vicki Barge and Emily Williams. Vickie Barge and Emily Williams nominated. Confirmed.
Historic preservation: Deirdre Heisler nominated. Confirmed.
Art community rep: Tom Eden, Emma Rogers, Susan Kerr. Confirmed Susan Kerr and Emma Rogers
Skip to Item 13:
Operation Stonegarden Grant participation.
Steve Marquez presents as Chief of Police.
Steve says that City and Police Dept did not seek out this grant. CBP presented monies that were not spent by Presidio county Sheriffs Office. Overtime only covered. Ten hours for each officer, only when help was needed.
Police have assisted in the past without funds.
In incidents such as these the city could be reimbursed.
Estevan says that if council thinks we should move forward on, but he is not advocating for or against this. Participation is optional.
This does not expand jurisdiction of local police.
Marfa Police Department will not participate in SB 4 enforcement demanding citizenship.
Only officers on off says or off time could participate in this program.
Police can refuse to assist. Can stop working with this program at any time.
Chief says that he sees both sides of the argument pro and con.
City Atty confirms that this OBSG money is to combat human trafficking and drugs only. Not immigration. Paperwork is very large.
Steve says that the paperwork would fall to the police, and him in specific.
Salgado clarifies that it’s not necessarily a certain number of hours per week. Correct. Steve says that the Sheriffs Office is participating and their role will be different. Months could go by without a call for assistance.
Marfa PD used to participate in Linebacker grants, which were similar.
Hours in this program cannot be used to admin assistance.
Brit Webb asks if he is in favor. Steve says he is not sure; he sees it as a benefit, but being so new we are still getting the feel of local policing . Paperwork load concerns him.
Mayor says that she has experience with federal grants and oversight will be needed. Costs versus benefits will need to be looked at. More grants are coming in besides this one.
There are costs to every grant opportunity.
This is a three year grant. 2016 monies are in play.
If 2016 monies go well they would likely go forward with future friendly force inclusion.
Brit Webb says that we are lucky to have Steve, but he has had a good number of people that have feelings on both sides of this issue.
Natalie Melendez brings up the language of the proposal. Paints a picture of militarized force.
Unknown as to whether refusal of this grant could preclude future participation.
Question as to whether if the County used all future funds would city still be asked to participating.
Rosario Halpern clarifies the proposal. 78,000 dollars over three year term or is it different?
Steve says forty hours is all that could be used per year. $16,000 total per year.
Manny says this year is may not work well with regard to paperwork. Maybe next year would be easier. Steve says BP could assist but unknown as to how much.
Bettina asks what the border patrol could ask to participate in. Steve says fugitives hiding, possible assist in arrests. Human trafficking issues are a new priority. Cars with possible loads of drugs.
Mayor clarifies that Marfa PD already works with CBP on enforcement. This would reimburse.
Small amount of money for a lot of work. Brian Neal asks if money is not used can it roll over to the next year. Unsure, sometimes.
Is this a burden on us to help other agencies? Steve says that this is work that flows into Marfa, so it’s a mutual interest.
Brian asks of this can be manipulated into a roadside stop type situation with multiple agencies. Most of the time agencies work together on roadside stops with multiple offenses.
Lastly, are our police being paid enough? Every bit helps, but for a small town we do Ok.
Work does not expand past city limits. Immigration work not permitted by department.
Manny says he would be mor in favor if there was more information about pay schedules and reimbursement schedules plus paperwork load.
Gary Mitschke asks about administrative time. Steve says no reimbursement for it in this case.
Looking to begin operations in August.
Officers with the force would favor some overtime hours.
Every document has to be exact, every moment documented.
Assisting border patrol within city limits when officers are not working overtime. Only when officers are working in their off time would they work. Limited to work within the city limits.
Deirdre says that her experience with Stonegarden prompts her to ask whether council has a solid enough foundation within the mission of the City of Marfa to go out and do something else. Natalie agrees this is a concern. Manny says he has full faith, they have done a great job. Mayor agrees this a good point. Irma’s main concern is the paperwork.
Shawn Smith says legitimacy is the issue. Says there is very little crime here. On occasions when rare events happen officers would already help and assist.
Teresa Todd says there would be an expectation of participation by Border Patrol if called upon.
Robert Arber says he would be surprised to see any events occur. Steve says that they do get through. Manny agrees.
Council set up Police Dept as a community police Dept.
You can catch more flies with honey than with vinegar.
More discussion about overtime and how it’s determined.
Steve says that it’s likely that not all the monies would be used.
Paperwork load is brought up again and is it worth it for the small amount of monies?
What happens if there is an accident while working these hours. Its city insurance that covers the issues. Unknown as to property damage.
Manny thinks this is not worth the headache. Steve says there are many other things he would like to do as Chief. School is getting ready to be back in session.
Potential for skipping this year and trying for next year. Steve says he would have to visit with them.
Documentation of how many times Marfa PD assists would be a good idea that will be tracked from this point on.
Mayor thanks Steve for bringing this to council and informing the public, rather than making a blanket decision as to whether this is good for the city.
Item dies for lack of a motion from council.
Skip to Item 16: Temporary holding cell for prisoners at Marfa PD.
Steve says that it would assist the Police in dealing with incidents where safety of individual is a factor and nobody to help them.
Will not change the Department’s approach to dealing with public intoxication, etc.
$32,000 left in renovation account. Quote for just over 26,000. Installed by police Dept.
City Admin says that TML insurance will cover liability.
Baeza moves to go forward. Unanimous.
Item 11: Illegal dumping sites cleanup: Teresa Todd presents.
Adobe building was demolished and being dumped into a channel feeding into Alamito Creek. TCEQ has jurisdiction.
TCEQ responded when contacted. County and Army Corps of Engineers were contacted by TCEQ as well. Coordinated effort between agencies began at that time.
Peggy and Cesar worked on compiling pic and data on problem spots.
Two sites on city property have already been cleaned. Moms draw side owners have already been contacted and may be subletting to liens if they do not clean. Lincoln street site is within the County. Referred to County Atty.
Alamito Creek site- contractor had permission from son to dump. He did not have authority. Owners will clean.
Galveston St city property and private landowners share problem. Title issues and research need to be done to determine responsibility.
City used to have a maintenance plan for keeping the brush down and waterways clean. Once Robert Silva left that stopped. City needs to resume a plan and refocus on keeping the creeks clean.
Making waterways valuable to the public will keep them Clean and attractive to the public. Long term goal.
Item 12: Close N Spring area intersection for David Branch’s wedding night.
Terry Brechtel asked for revised sketch. Scaled down request a bit.
420 Spring St house with wedding.
Has contacted all the neighbors. No apparent problems.
Manny requests that for future reference would like signatures from neighbors.
Brechtel will ask him to get verification from any neighbor who owns and resides there.
Noise ordinance goes until midnight, permission asked for until two AM.
Two blocks of street requested. Council will ask him to be present for questions and also to provide signatures. There is time.
Mayor suggests that there could be a future permitting process for things like this.
Manny moves to table the item until next regular meeting. Unanimous.
Item 14: new term for City grants for Museum. Natalie says that they were reticent for historic preservation grants because of the work that needs to be done to the building.
Teresa Todd says that the structure of this agreement is similar to other city offices provided at basically no cost.
HOT monies available for eligible historic preservation expenses.
Does not limit them from applying for other grants.
Brit Webb says that the problems with the adobe and foundation need to be addressed. City owns the building.
Manny moves to approve. Unanimous
Item 15: ICC license between city and International Code Council for use of updated international zoning code in Marfa Zoning Code.
Teri Brechtel says there is enough money in the budget.
Josef Ben-Yehuda, member of zoning board, explains that this is a cooperative of zoning boards that refine and standardize codes. Goal is making Marfa zoning code more clear and easier for both the city and constituents to use.
Can be used later to construct building codes.
Standardizing can also assist recruiting an inspector if city goes that route eventually. Also includes some general standards for building codes.
Salgado motions to approve. Unanimous
Item 17: accounts payable report approval
Work was done on Fort DA Russell sewer lift station pumps and electrical.
Item 18: announcements:
Community rummage sale at MAC building will be near end of July. 21st starts.
City is going to try to clean out Casner garage at some point. Long process.
Adjourn at 8:01 PM