By Will McClure
The Stamford City Council held its regular meeting on Monday evening, October 17 where the main topic of discussion was the raising of the city's water rates. After Mayor Johnny Anders called the meeting to order at 5:15 pm, Councilmember Leldon Clifton led the Invocation followed by the recitation of the Pledge of Allegiance, led by Councilmember Dennis Braden. After the Pledge, the meeting was open for citizen's comments. However, as no citizens wished to address the council, the meeting quickly moved forward where the council moved to approve the minutes of the last regular meeting on October 3 before moving forward with the discussion on the city's water rates.
City Manager Alan Plumlee addressed the council at this time, stating that for the past several months the council has been trying to come together on a decision on how the city can repay the $9.5 million loan that was given to Stamford by the Texas Water Development Board. Plumlee stated that while he has been working with several council members, the previous week he had approached an organization in the city and asked them for help to assist in the repair of the city's infrastructure in a way where the city could entice possible economic development and/or help the citizens. He went on to say that the organization came back to him and said that they would be glad to help out, offering to assist the city for possibly a year, helping to alleviate some of the financial burden from trying to revise the budget or raise the water rates dramatically. Plumlee said that the assist would amount to $84,000 for the year, or around $5 per water meter. As a result, the official ordinance was presented to the board which will institute an $8.50 water rate increase for all city water customers, both within the city limits and outside of it, at the base rate up to 3,000 gallons. In addition, the additional overage of 1,000 gallons after the initial 3,000 will be raised from $4 to $5 per 1,000 gallons used. Although the increase and assist would help towards the first loan payment, Plumlee informed the council that the money raised would not completely meet the first payment, but that he is still in touch with the people in Dallas that are studying the city's rates, which will give the city some insight moving forward.
Plumlee continued by informing the council that representatives of the Texas Water Development Board will be present for the council's first meeting in November, in which the new city ordinance would go into effect. Plumlee said that he had yet to receive an agenda from the board, but it will be sent in the future as the members will discuss the water situation with the council. Plumlee advised that moving forward it would be in the best interest of the council to make some kind of decision to help get the process started before the first payment is due in February. Councilmember James Decker added that the rate increase will get the city started on the repayment process, with the city possibly needing to dip into emergency funds to make the first payment. Councilmember Melinda Smith then moved to approve the water rate increase, seconded by Councilmember Pam Reither before Decker made a motion to make an amendment to the motion where the rate will be approved, but that the council will revisit the water rates once wholesale contracts are renegotiated. There was concern over the members of the Water Development Board visiting, with the fear that they may amend the rates themselves, but the fact that the council is moving forward may prove to be a good sign for the Development Board. As such, the council moved to unanimously approve the amendment presented by Decker and voted on the first reading of the ordinance. However, while the ordinance was passed and will move forward to the second reading in November, the vote was not unanimous as Councilmember Leldon Clifton was the sole vote against the passing of the ordinance. With the ordinance passed by a vote of 4-1, the meeting moved forward to the consent agenda where all items were approved as presented, which led to Plumlee's City Manager's Report.
Plumlee's report was brief that evening, with him providing the statistics for the city pool operation this past summer. Plumlee reported that the city spent about $30,000 to help renovate the baby pool as well as general maintenance on the main pool, stating that that number will be much lower next year as nothing major will need to be done with the pool besides regular maintenance. Plumlee reported that the pool took in $3,400 in revenue this year, up from the $2,700 for two years ago. The pool was open for 45 days this year and averaged about 39 people a day. With nothing else for Plumlee to report on at this time and with no further questions, the council moved to adjourn at 5:32 pm.