Notes on Marfa City Council Meeting, Tuesday August 14th, 2018, 6 PM, Marfa City Hall
Present: Mayor Anne Marie Nafziger, city administrator Teri Brechtel, council members Manny Baeza, Brit Webb, Irma Salgado, Bock Johnston, Natalie Melendez. City Atty Teresa Todd
Mona Garcia: invites council to Sept 20-21 for Building 98 Annual Meeting and open house. Three artists exhibits presenting.
Verena Zbiden: javelina population is growing fast and needs to be addressed in the western part of town. Destroying plants, presenting danger, especially mothers with babies. Please do something.
End of citizen Comments
Item 4: approve minutes of meetings July 10 and August 2nd. Salgado moves to approve both. Second by Webb. Buck Johnston abstains. Unanimous
Attended RGCOG meeting in July, Hotel Occupancy Tax grant committee meeting, first one. Mayor is very positive about that meeting. Deidre Heisler speaks a bit about upcoming HOT tax training.
Says members are positive and willing to receive public input.
Mayor reminds audience that the committee is an advisory board to the council.
Mayor says August 8 they presented to commissioners court regarding county EMS services payments. Looking at a better way for reimbursements. Says Judge said they will follow up with city.
August 20 th HOT tax workshop will occur.
Parks and Rec meeting will be August 23rd at Coffield Park. Rep from a playground equip company will be there.
Peter Stanley says that Zoning committee rewrite of zoning code with international zoning committee guidelines is coming along.
Mayor says that budget meetings are coming up, August 23rd will be budget wrap up. Sept 6 tax rate hearing to adopt both tax rate and budget.
City Police Chief Report:
Steve Marquez says they will begin school zone patrols Monday. Will be pushing use of crosswalks.
Will be enforcing speed limit during all school hours. 15mph.
No cell phones in school zones.
Providing residential security checks at request of residents. Eight since last meeting.
Courtesy rides for intoxicated individuals.
Four way stop uncut from citizens. Single lane, no turning lanes.
MARFA Lights Fest and Chinati fest will have a bit extra on patrol.
165 requests for service this month.
Five arrests. 17 traffic warnings, 31 citations issued. August report
July report: 109 stops, 67 citations, 42 warnings.
All officers attended an advance child abuse safety course. Three days of training. Instructed by APD chief Darrel Losoya. Chief and Carrillo will attend active shooter training course next week. Training at Sul Ross.
City administrators report: no news on grants. Finances- working through amended budget as part of budget process. New building code software being adopted.
Natural Gas company passed Texas RR Commission audit and got great reviews. Employees doing a great job and were commended by state representative.
Highland St crossing closing happening soon for track underlay rebuild. Will announce as soon is known.
Natalie Melendez says she is honored to be a member of council. Thinks council represents a broad spectrum of the community. Thinks that’s great, but tensions can arise. Asks for mutual respect in addressing and treating each other.
Action to close Highland St between Texas and Lincoln on Oct 6th for Roseanne Cash concert. And two streets around courthouse. Night time closure.
Rob Weiner presents . Talks about open house weekend and Judd’s tradition.
Over thirty years of tradition. Community dinner was discontinued about six years ago. Want to reintroduce an activity downtown for everyone to attend free of charge. Clean up crew would be sure by midnight everything is addressed. Have sent requests to County and TXDOT. They are waiting for city council approval first. Gary Mitschke, fire chief, approves but wants to be included in all conversations about street closures.
Noon until midnight or two AM at latest. Business owners are on board except for one.
Natalie Melendez works for Chinati and recuses herself from vote.
Buck Johnston motions to approve closure as requested.
Chinati will be responsible for arranging barricades.
Action to approve traffic management and traffic plan for area around Chinati.
Chinati initiated this item.
Making some streets one way, others for parking only on one side. Asking for city provided barricades for funneling traffic. This would be for Chinati weekend only. One way loop, essentially. Parking on both sides of street in direction of traffic flow. Discussion about neighbors and who has approved.
Barry says there were problems last year that were not reported. He says that Bonnie street was unable to be accessed. Police hired by Chinati prevented access to certain areas and were not cooperative. Asks council to be clear that security know what council decides. Residents, Building 98, and Chinati volunteers were affected.
Mayor says that the neighbor lanyards provided by Chinati be explained to whomever is providing security be clearly informed. Mayor clarifies that most problems last year were during the Solange concert and n event that large won’t be occurring there this year. Thanks Barry for his input.
Baeza wants to provide neighbors with two parking passes, provided by Chinati. Salgado agreed, makes motion to approve with provision of parking permits, two per residence.
Item 11: approve request by Presidio County Sheriffs Office to make jail and dispatch contracts line up with county budget dates.
Fiscal year dates. No objection from Chief Marquez or anyone else.
Question from Baeza about charges made by officers of city of Marfa.
Yes, officers can charge for crimes higher than a Class C Mis.
Chief says for suicide watch on Class C Mis police are trying to get their own holding cell approved so they can supervise and bring MHMR to city police Dept cell rather than having to provide an officer to maintain a suicide watch at County jail as contract provides for.
Salgado moves to approve contract updates.
Second by Webb
Accounts payable report to August tenth.
Salgado asks about supplies for gas Dept. New meters, additional parts.
Action heating and cooling: library equipment. Compressor went out. Not terrifically old system, according to city public works director.
Fuel pump for 2003 Chevy pickup. 3/4 Ton general use for public works.
Salgado wants to look at replacing some of these old trucks.
Library program grant expenses.
Tax note administration fees of $150.
Budget presentation and discussion: utility funds.
Salgado says she has received lots of input about budget. She would like to see the older budget and new formatted budget side by side on one format. Much has been rearranged and it is difficult.
Gives an example after Mayor asks for one.
Teri Brechtel says that in some places we have had savings and others had expenses. She says that at the bottom of each Dept’s budget there is a total line and any difference in overall Dept budget will be reflected there.
Salgado is still not clear on her question having been answered.
Council member Johnston assists her in reading different budget pages.
Discussion about bank balances left over. Where do you they go? Cover overages for other departments or something else? Brechtel explains that the budget as a whole is addressed on the summary page and, yes, some areas surpluses covered other deficiencies. Salgado says that at Appraisal District there would be specific line item transfers written into the budgeting.
Discussion about this.
Moving forward, Salgado would like to see specific line item transfers notated. Mayor agrees. Says that this process is what they have inherited and for next year she wants to hear about how to make it better for the future.
She says that this year the city has taken steps to outwardly communicate with the public for participation. Still struggling with the process and in the years ahead we can improve.
Mayor asks the City Admin to recite the council requests from last meeting.
City employee salaries are listed by salary only, not names.
Overtime is not reflected. Not a complete picture of earnings. Staff is not aware of salary discrepancies. Very sensitive information.
Rosario Halpern says that everything is public and is public monies and taxpayer money. Mayor says that she understands the argument but that this organization has sensitive information. Baeza agrees that the information is public. Mayor asks council to take into account the health of the city as an organization first.
Rosario says she does not want names, she wants generalities, which is what the Mayor is giving the councilmembers. Mayor says if she files an open records act she can have it, yes it’s public.
Mayor says that she and the city admin are trying hard for wage parity.
They are shooting for minimum wage of Fifteen dollars per hour at some point.
Buck Johnston says she has some issues as proposed for proposed positions. Should she be silent about which they are? No, says Mayor.
Mayor talks about changes being made to positions. Copier issues discovered, some people have blank sheets in some places.
Teri Brechtel presents some figures about individual Dept expenses.
Longevity pay also not reflected in salary survey.
Public works: Mayor gives highlights about proposed changes between last year and this year. Salaries: 80,471 fewer. Director position is one position that would oversee water sewer gas and streets Dept’s. that is that dollar number.
Efficiency sought. More opportunities for cross training between those three functions. Each fund is charged an administrative fee for director.
Mayor hoping to fix the streets and coordinate infrastructure repairs with that.
Mayor wants to integrate federal grants for rural sidewalks, bike lanes, etc. money is there, we need to try to get it.
Planning grants, etc. Stresses need for shovel ready, engineered projects we could hand off in case grants received. Professional services are budgeted for, may not need to be spent. Grant apps want detailed plans.
Salgado discusses capital outlay line to replace som public works vehicles in poor condition. Wants a cost analysis on repairs versus replacement.
Buck Johnston thinks 80,000 salary for infrastructure director is potentially too high when you take into account the sixteen step salary increase longevity plan.
Mayor says that is a good point, but council can set salaries for officers of the city. All other staff report up the chain to the city admin.
Mayor says that the lower end salaries are what we are really interested in focusing on, but there are scenarios that could occur on every level of the employee base.
Buck says she is very happy with the lower level salary bumps and incentives.
In the new budget city has zero funded the gas manager position. Public works director would have a supervisor. Gas manager and public works manager job would oversee the gas Corp supervisor and public works supervisor.
Supervisors work in the field as well as supervise.
Brechtel says that employees that work at city are very talented. Great at,us and willing trained and certified, improve their skills. She thinks that one director for all would be helpful for efficiencies, production and achievement. Cross trained.
City has been seeing increases in revenue over time.
Mayor wants a major push to fix streets over time. There will be a finance component.
Iicensing and permits. Budget does not change from last years budgeted amount. Conservative budgeting. Salaries for water works. Four positions. Buck Johnston is still concerned about salaries of supervisors and director in relation to workers and long term city budgeting.
Baeza is not comfortable with the new position salary. Would prefer more workers and a separate road and bridge department to deal with roads. Too many chiefs in his opinion.
Buck objects to an additional layer of management.
Equity in take home pay an issue if supervisors aren’t able to get as many overtime hours in the field.
Mayor reminds audience that the city government is in transition and it’s difficult. Goal in her mind is to provide service to Marfa as it is today, which is different than in the past.
Buck says that when she was campaigning the city of Marfa was perceived as being top heavy. She does not want to add to that perception.
Mayor says that creating an organizational chart and job descriptions has been a priority and we are making progress. Baeza says in a town of less than 2000people it’s hard to justify this much management.
Salgado says she understand the cross training advantages. She has an issue with trying to explain this to the public. Lots of pressure.
Mayor says that the resistance to change needs to be measured by whether the councilmembers like the way things have been done and are being done for the last ten years. Do we think the streets are great? Do we think the gas and public works departments are functioning tandem? She is looking towards basic duties of the city, plus safe routes to school, sidewalks, bike lanes, more efficiencies and productivity. There are different ways to approach the budget. This proposed budget says that we are not satisfied and we need to do better.
Salgado says it is difficult to change the culture. We need to make sure we can work together and everybody knows what everyone’s job is and we can get it done. But we must be able to explain to the public what we are doing and why it will work. The key is why it will work.must be easy to understand in layman’s terms.
Baeza says he has been happy with water sewer and gas Dept’s for ten years but have not addressed the streets. A dedicated road and bridge crew is what we need. Says there will be a presentation from the Asphalt zipper company next week and have more information. Doesn’t want to add another tier to the brass.
Mayor says she appreciates this and next weeks presentation. Could be a solution or part of a solution. Is interested in how we can improve communication between departments.
Manny says that Dept heads must do this, we are a small town.
Discussion about qualifications for infrastructure dept head. Will it have to be an engineer? No, but we have not yet defined the parameters.
Discussion about how to proceed with amendments to budget, proposals.
Mayor thinks that good discussion is being had. Overall budgeting in a general sense is being addressed and it will continue to come together.
Back to water works discussion.
Three bids from contractors to paint the water tower. Ranging in the $63,000 for repair and recoat .Purple tower.
Water well construction: online by early next year. Well 3 will have more capacity than current well 2.
Johnston asks about water hog surcharges. Wants to encourage conservation.
Baeza says our rates are already staggered in that manner.
Mayor says they will bring more info next meeting. Good ideas.
Administrative positions now budgeted across departments generally instead of specifically.
Sewers: four positions budgeted.
Equipment maintenance . Repairs to sewer plant pumps and aerators.
Sewer jet purchase. Proposed to purchase a small metal building out at sewer plant for office and light storage. Old building has chemicals and rodents. Will be used for chemicals only.
Questions about sewer systems. Jeff says system is in fair shape but there are places in the sewer system that have recurring problems. New sewer jet will help mitigate these problems.
Natural Gas: warm winter this past year. Five employees budgeted for next year. Removing manager and adding a service worker.
Has Dept supervisor would be eligible for overtime. GPS software needed for mapping lines.
Meter expense: 54,000 dollars available from last years profits. Brechtel visited with employees and they relayed requests for new large meters. Three large meters. Programmable meters with more accurate reading capabilities. Meters will be approximately $8025. Will need to buy program, about $1700. Approx ten thousand out. Old meters are worthless.
Also a poly fusion machine. $2200. New $4600 welding machine.
Talk about property behind Dollar General that gas company owns. Historic building on property, building cannot be demolished. They no longer use that lot. More training needed. Manny asks about ploy ratio. Nacho says about ten miles still needed. Have replaced about five miles as city of Marfa. Half mile per year is required. We are slightly ahead of required replacement schedule.
Next meeting is Tuesday the 21st, for presentation of Asphalt Zipper machine.
Time unknown. Probably in the morning. At Coffield Park. Will be posted.
Item 14- no announcements
Item 15- adjourn at 8:48 PM