Notes on City of Marfa Council Meeting Thursday September 27, 2018, 6:00 PM, Casner Room, Marfa City Hall.
Councilmembers present: Buck Johnston, Natalie a Melendez, Irma Salgado, Brit Webb, Mayor Ann Marie Nafziger. Absent: Manny Baeza
City Manager Brechtel and City Atty Todd also present.
Meeting convened at 6:00 PM.
Question about furniture so that council can face audience. Mayor says that city needs some new furniture. Will be considered this year.
Question about citizen comments during agenda items, can it be clarified before a motion is made that the citizens have given input? Some discussion. Wanted is an opportunity to discuss before decisions are made.
HOT fund grant process committee is dedicated to the process and is successful. Formalizing grant process has made things more clear. Transportation and car rental system discussed as well. City administrator and city Atty are looking further into it. Will be studied more and corrections to any mistakes can be made or other methods can be adopted.
Buck Johnston asks if the city management feels comfortable with the existing system. Mayor says that no rental vehicles are being used by city official or staff, only by tourists who are renting them. Previously that was not always the case. Occasionally were used by city staffers and elected officials. There will be a car budgeted for administration. Melendez says she is happy to hear that. Buck Johnston asked the original question.
Mistakes in transportation systems will be remedied going forward to be in perfect compliance with rules. Teresa Todd has reached out to all the major stakeholders and hotels asking for input on the program. Is it worth it and is it serving the tourism industry properly. Buck says thank you, this is good. Teresa also say they are looking into alternative solutions as well for the transportation issues in the city.
HWY 67 corridor study. Mayor and city administrator participated.
She took the bus tour from alpine to Presidio. Chief Marquez presented about the four way stop issues.
Most conversation revolved soured safety issues. Had lunch at the PAC in Presidio. Larger meeting and had work groups. Short term outcomes. David Alice from TXDOT was on the bus. Striping on four way stop a result of this. More signage between Alpine and Marfa. Next meeting Nov 7 at USO building in Marfa. Please spread the word.
Sen Rodriguez had a town hall. Councilmembers Johnston and Mayor attended. Went well.
Parks board meeting last week discussed the budget and Coffield Park playground equipment. $55,000 budget. Agenda item in this meeting on TPW grant for park project.
Talk about future council meeting dates.
During budget process website was discussed. Dan Shiman, web designer I’ll present next meeting.
Police Chiefs report
Steve Marquez- Aug-Sept update.
School zones, school walk-throughs. Enforcing traffic laws in school zones.
Security checks for residents upon request.
Thirteen courtesy rides for tourists and locals getting them home safely.
Will do security for upcoming Roseanne Cash Chinati concert
Neighborhood meeting at Bldg 98 occurring and Chief will answer questions and take comments. 7-8 pm onOct 12(?)
Received RGCOG training on new reporting software.
Public safety: three officers attended Active Shooter training in Alpine at Sul Ross. Very good training session. Followed up with Civilian Response to Active Shooter. Marquez, Hernandez and Carrillo are now certified instructors and can teach citizens on this issue.
130 officer requests for service.
21 new cases ranging from assault, vandalism, theft, hit and run. DWLI, internet scams.
Job offers, cloning actual businesses and get info.
69 traffic stops, 48 citations in Aug.
More in Sept. Three in-city vehicle collisions.
Vehicle unlock requests: 21
Police are locking the restrooms at night at Coffield Park. Open during the daytime now.
Sonora has had bad flooding, have requested assistance from Police. On days off chief and one officer are going to go down to assist.
End of report.
Item 7: City manager report:
Grant status. Waco St improvement project expected to complete by Oct. work can start after that.
Alamito Creek project grant was not approved. Will pursue in the future with better information.
City audit is complete.
Oct 10 flu shots will be available to city employees, elected officials and family members.
Roseanne Cash concert conversations. TXDOT wants to extend road closure to HWY 17. Everyone ok with that.
City has been billed for fewer dumpsters than are actually being picked up. Republic/Duncan has conducted some audits on our dumpsters. City has not in years. City manager wants to have an extensive audit of residential and commercial accounts.
Republic had been billing for commercial when it was residential and city was not billing all commercial businesses for commercial rate and dumpster tipping rates. Republic billing city for dumpsters that are not being billed for by the city. City will not try to receive retroactive payments from customers but will contact customers to inform of adjustments.
Republic has agreed that fault is with them and city booth and wants to work in good faith to fix the problems. Will have audit completed and accounts adjusted by the end of this year. Patty O’Brien and Lori Flores have been heading up this effort.
Brit Webb apologizes for being absent last meeting. Appreciates those who have come to his defense for being out of town for family business. Had a great time with family. Glad that the Mayor got to vote to break a tie.
Skip to Item 11:
Mandy Roane presents.
Naming library addition community room after donor Cecilia Thompson. Also family that donated the land to the city.
Mandy says that money came with the understanding that Cecilia would be acknowledged in the project. Her lawyer discussed this with city, previous admi understood this.
Library committee raised additional funds, not city or county tax funds.
Plan for plaque on the wall and recognition wall as well. Individuals and foundations gave donations, large and small.
Large plaques are very expensive. Aluminum signs for outdoor use more affordable.
Foundations $3000 and up. Larry Doll, architect who passed away and designed the project will be recognized.
Buck Johnston says that she was one of Cecilia’s best friends and was her medical power of attorney. One a personal level she is thrilled, as a councilmember she cannot vote for this. She does not think it’s right to single out a person for donations. Mandy says that the Atty, Ron ...., sends donations every year and he is adamant that the building be named for her. Buck asks if this could affect future donations.
Melendez says she thinks it’s a nuanced matter and she ultimately agrees with Buck but if it puts future funding in jeopardy then we have to take that into consideration. Webb says he does not feel either way about it. Salgado says she feels like naming is unnecessary but honoring the donors is a good thing.
Question as to whether honoring her inside the library. Mandy says that according to the information she has that this is what would have worked and what was appropriate given the donations and the expectations.
J.D. DiFabbio was on the board and explains that in the early discussions not the entire space but just the community room building would be named after Cecilia. Mayor asks for clarification. Buck says that yes, the estate wanted this, but she was not the architect of this plan. She goes on to see that she does not think Cecilia would support this, not that she wasn’t vain.
J.D. says that the board really wanted to represent all the contributions from everyone who participated. This was a good faith negotiation with Ron Summers, Atty and Cecilia’s estate. No members believed this was anything but acknowledging the great help of this generous donation that allowed the space to be built properly. It was the heart of the beginning of the project. Mandy says the plan is to honor everyone. The community room, though, would be.
Mandy says this donation propelled the project to success. Helped matching fund contributions and got foundations and other donors attention.
This building was not built with public funds. Teresa Todd reminds public. No public funds at all, all fundraising.
Mandy says in no way are they trying to diminish other donors but the board feels like this is appropriate.
Brit Webb compliments the opening of the facility. Says it’s great, beautiful.
Grand opening ceremony Oct 23. They want all recognition in place.
Three week turnaround on plaque production.
Genevieve Bassham, former Mayor and councilwoman says the she believes Cecilia should be honored for her donation and as an admirable person.
Elbert Bassham says that there is plenty of precedence in buildings being named for people.
Mayor agrees with Atty Todd’s point that the library board did all of the work to fund this project and it should be their preference to honor their donors.
Mandy says yes, this has been a seven year plus project and we are ready to be done with the plan we have.
Patrick Chavira asks about the future funding issue, is it a worry? Mandy says maybe, they have had such a good working relationship with Ron Summers. Patrick says he would like for the city not to jeopardize future donations.
Melendez doe not like the idea of naming a building after a person but she does not want to jeopardize any funding from donors.
Discussion about how the land was transferred from the family for $8,000 to the city for library purposes. Beebe says that at the time the donation was given it gave the city impetus for a project where there was nothing before. Transformational moment.
Buck says she is torn about it. Peter Stanley elaborates on the progress of the concept from courtyard to storage shed to community space at that time.
Silence from council. Salgado motions to honor the donors and Cecilia on a plaque but not on the building itself. Second by Webb.
Vote. Buck and Natalie vote no, Mayor breaks tie and votes no. Motion fails.
Mayor says she thinks that when you look at the history of the funding the library board has been in charge and they are requesting a specific proposal. She thinks that the council should accept the library crowds recommendation.
Melendez moves to accept the library board’s recommendation.
No second. Dies for lack of second.
Buck Johnston motions to postpone to next meeting for input from Councilman Baeza. Unanimous.
Item 9: Appoint members to planning and zoning board.
Jamey Garza and Hilary Scruggs.
Hilary: new resident to Marfa. Has a lot of experience in building in Sam,l municipalities and in San Antonio with her design business.
Jamey: lived here for fifteen years. Have run design build contracting service and now furniture design. Has worked in town on various projects and navigating and recognizing how each property within an area has its own set of conditions and circumstances. Thinks he can bring a helpful perspective to the board. Also having owned and operated a business in this town he has additional perspectives. Marfa fifteen years later, what’s the next fifteen look like. It’s an interesting time for service.
Buck Johnston says both candidates are excellent and would be great.
Says there are two architects on the board already. What can she bring that adds and is different
Hilary says that the experience she can bring is defined from her educational background and value of functioning processes.
Buck asks both candidates about a potential new zoning ordinance. She thinks this is one of the most important committees in the city.
Hilary asks for clarification about hat she means. Jamey says it seems like the city is at the point where property values are up and more rental options are one thing to keep the community viable for new commercial businesses to open.
These days just getting property to have a business is a tough proposition. Uncertainty of leases and prohibitive costs. Wants people to open businesses and stay, and it is very hard.
Thinks a new ordinance would be important. Bigger employers don’t have housing options for their employees.
P&Z members here have no recommendation between the two qualified candidates. Five members of planning and zoning commission. This position would begin November 1st.
Spot had been occupied by Meghan Gehraty.
Josef Ben-Yehuda and Peter Stanley are present, other members are Steve Raybourn and Scott May.
Motion by Buck to appoint Jamey Garza based on his time in the community. Unanimous.
Thank both candidates.
Alley behind Basshams’ house to abandon and sell.
Currently being used as part of the property, not being used as an alley. Appraised value is $3400. Signature from neighbor Katy Rose Elsasser saying no issues, this is Food Bank property. Motion is to schedule public hearing for this. Salgado makes motion. Unanimous. Could be considered at Nov council meeting, says Atty Todd.
Item 12: paining and repairs of water tower. MacGuire iron.
City manager said there were three proposals. Recommends accepting this proposals for 63,900. Much lower than other bids and the only firm to come out and do a visual inspection.
Three year contract. Michael Brackman presents.
Family owned business out of Sioux Falls. Working with Alpine, asked in San Antonio. Pecos tower. 25 years in Texas.
Most tanks do not receive good maintenance. TCEQ monitors, American Water Works Association creates standards for portable water storage. OSHA as well.
Standards change. This standpipe was built in 1939 and is in good shape considering.
Dan Dunlap helping with presentation. Computer has gone into Windows update mode. Brechtel recommends moving forward to next item. Working on computer, pics are important, according to city manager.
Presentation: includes company background.
Limited service program for Marfa.
One stop shop for maintenance, repair and replacement.
Each tank has a separate contract.
Colony cannot drop the city contract. City may drop MacGuire.
Marfa water tank condition assessment.
Purple tower, 100000 gallon standpipe: 1939. Built by Chicago bridge and iron. Worth between 700,000 and 800,000. New tank would cost more. Exterior coating is in poor condition. Near end of service life. Work will be recondition and paint, coat. Shows photos of some damage to exterior.
Chalking of paint. Need a new finial ball. Rust on roof fairly severe.
Ledge replacement. Need new roof ladder compliant with regs. New man way. Antenna ring will be updated. They recommend a railing system as well.
Antennas would be attached to exterior of railing. Better for safety and health of the tank, not as great for aesthetics. Verizon has a new plan for nw equipment. Will be coordinated.
Interior ladder will be removed. Unnecessary and they rust into the water.
Will have dual aviation light instead of single.
Interior coating: will be redone in three years. No contract now. Needs to be removed, replaced and epoxied.
Interior tie rods need to be removed. Corrosion into water from them. Magnesium and iron staining on walls. Pitted areas as well.
Three years for the city to install various variable water flow devices so that this tower can be shut down and entirety of city can still have water.
Potable water tank will be installed temporarily to serve wells next to this tank during the repair period.
Several weeks. How will it affect the fire Dept. Says there is enough capacity to serve Dept needs.
Repair overflow weir.
Install ladder gate to prevent illegal access.
If city locks into seven year agreement prices will be locked in for inflation, etc. city can break contract and pay whatever is owed. Opportunity to lock in at today’s prices.
Good presentation, informative.
Johnston motion to accept seven year contract.
Johnston asks city manager if she recommends seven year deal. Yes.
Item 13- Affordable housing advisory committee. Councilmember Melendez speaks to citizens. Purpose is to work in conjunction with city leadership, organizations and citizens. Big concern with many parties. Formation of an advisory committee is a good way to start this dialogue.
Has an outline of how a committee oiled be set up and desired expertise in membership.
Johnston asks if this would be policy driven. For establishing policy. Yes, she says, initially.
Johnston is in support.
Teresa Todd recommends having an odd number of members on a committee for practical voting purposes of avoiding ties.
Mayor asks if council members might be involved. Johnston says she would love to do it. Todd says they could be non-voting.
Go to seven members, including two council members.
Process moving forward is to advertise openings for membership.
Motion to create and advertise for members of an affordable housing committee by Salgado with seven members including two council members. Unanimous.
Item 14: city records retention offer. Salgado motions to table at Mayor recommendation. Unanimous.
Item 15: Court security committee as required by the Texas Govt Code.
Teresa Todd says that Lege passed this in 2014. Must include the municipal court judge, a police officer and a rep from the city.
Recommendations to council for usage of designated funds from certain court costs collected in traffic tickets.
Salgado. Options to approve and establish court security committee. Second by Melendez. Discussion as to who to have represent the city. Cherry Torres, clerk of court, recommend additional. Part of motion
Item 16: rainy parks and Rec board to install new playground equipment at Coffield Park. Description of additions, cost approx $55,000.
Old slide and merry go round will be removed and offered out for bid sale to citizens.
Item 17 deals with grant application for same.
Verena Zbiden says that Marfa Rotary Club has prepared a Rotary grant application for assistance. City council is thrilled. Mayor says this will help in getting TPW grant most likely. Unanimous.
Item 17: Mayor presents. Due Oct 1. Mayor will try as hard as possible to get this match grant. Possible to maybe get $55,000 extra. Johnston motions to authorize grant application. Unanimous.
Amending fiscal year 2017-2018 Budget. Dan Dunlap helps present.
Teri Brechtel says a couple of things have changed. Objective is to show ending numbers to reflect actual.
Says that total revenue $220,000 above budgeted amount.
Expenditures: 6.6 million budgeted. 6 million forty one thousand and change spent.
Obligated funds: did not spend money on new water well this year, still need it. Savings reflected.
Administration funds: city changed vacation payout obligations for when employees quit. Now fifty percent, used to be 100%.
City’s general fund could purchase a vehicle from Tourist info center for use by admin for fair market price. Some discussion, no decision.
Other changes, mostly not significant.
No major changes in Law Enforcement budget.
Fire Dept. Added for fuel to get to actual.
Gas utility charges less.
Dunlap mentions that fire Dept budget is nearly completely funded by the voluntary contribution on water bills. Johnston asks question about what happens when you pay online. Dunlap says that if the individual ha taken that option, then yes it is added. Dunlap says city needs to pay any balance to fire Dept with a check they can use as they wish. City’s main contribution to fire Dept is building maintenance for the fire Dept building.
Municipal Court: fines lowered. Zeroed out technology fund.
Beebe speaks to the councilmembers about the municipal court and issues about ticket payments and lack of being able to pay for defendants, lack of phone being answered.
Also reminds Council about technology fund being legally designated for tech use only in municipal court office and funds carry over year to year, not to be co mingled in general fund. Brechtel says they have this system in place.
MAC building pool revenue is very small. No pool fees next year at all, it will be free.
EMS service: looking pretty good. No significant changes.
Presidio County payment adjusted to reflect no increase.
Solid waste and recycling. Duncan contract services stay the same at $415,000 after negotiations and discussions with Republic. We’re looking at a greater liability but agreed to start repress next year.
Water fees: no significant changes.
Sewer: no changes
Natural Gas: supplies dropped from $60,000 to $50,000. Meter expense went up to $18,000 from $10,000.
Public works and streets: vehicle maintenance up about $5500.
Tourism Dept: no changes except for Building maintenance. Dropped landscaping work and saved $72,000. Membership and dues went up but not dollars.
No changes in interest and sinking.
End of presentation.
Beebe asks about reserves, budget surpluses carried over.
Explained that the goal is to eventually have a four month contingency for each operating/enterprise fund in the city.
Item 19: contraction permit ordinances. Definitions of terms, fees for permit and license fees. Reflects what is approved in new budget.
Several different fees addressed for residential and commercial permits. Increased permit fees to twenty cents per square foot. Contractors license is $150. Disposal fees for contractors not having proof of an on site roll off.
Roll off fee on city right of way $150 and $5 daily fee. Use of sidewalk or city street row same.
Johnston would like to table this issue. This is an ordinance and she would like to give citizens the opportunity to see an review this ordinance for input. She does not have a big problem with this but she would like to give citizens a chance to study it in the interest of transparency.
This was discussed in budget talks several times. Salgado says this has been discussed enough and we can approve. Ok, says buck. Salgado moves to approve. Second by Melendez.
Johnston opposed but passes otherwise.
Accounts payable report:
Salgado asks about Marfa Recording Co for wireless microphone installation at USO. Bought for $750. Salgado questions buying it from Marfa Recording at that cost. We already have one, was there a need for a second one? Teri says that yes, there was a need. Discussions were had.
Salgado would like to shop around next time to find a better price.
Melendez moves to approve report.
Second by Webb
Adjourn at 9:01 pm.