Texas Water Development Board Visits City Council During Regular Meeting

The Stamford City Council held its regular meeting on Monday, November 7 where the council would hear from representatives of the Texas Water Development Board and formally approve the adoption of the water rate increase after the second reading of the new city ordinance. After the invocation was led by Councilmember Dennis Braden followed by the Pledge of Allegiance led by Councilmember James Decker, Mayor Johnny Anders called the meeting to order and opened the floor for Citizen's Comments. However, as no citizens had anything to address to the council, the meeting moved forward to approving the minutes of the October 17 regular meeting before hearing from a representative of the Texas Water Development Board. Carlton Wilks of the Texas Water Development Board, specifically the section of financial compliance, stepped forward to address the council, addressing his concerns with the city potentially falling into non-compliance due to failing to have the funds to make the first payment to the water loan in February. Wilks stated that the city received $265,000 in 2004 followed by the $20,000,000 awarded earlier this year, half of which was forgiven and the other half as a loan at a interest rate of less than 1.5%. He said that the contact was entered in good faith with the agreement being that the city could make the necessary payments in a timely manner. He urged the city council to set up a savings account which would help make the payments and be aware of the dangers of falling into non-compliance if they do not meet the agreed-upon structure, noting that the worst case scenario would be federal filings that would make the issue public record as well as a court order from the Attorney General for the first time in the 50 plus history of the board. Wilks stated that no one wants non-compliance to happen as it would negatively affect future loans by the board to not only Stamford, but to other cities requesting assistance. Wilks concluded his presentation by recommending to the council that they make the decisions to get things together to help make the payments on time and maintain compliance. As he could not give specific recommendations to the council at this time, he urged the council to gather the funds together. With the presentation complete, Anders thanked Mr. Wilks for his time and moved the meeting forward to the second reading of City Ordinance 895, which would approve the increase in water rates for the city by $8.50 per meter. The council was once again not unanimous in the approval of the ordinance, with Councilmember Leldon Clifton being the sole vote against the new ordinance, which was passed by a vote of 4-1. Along with the official passing of the ordinance, customers can expect to see the increase in the water bills beginning with December, while an interest and sinking savings fund can be set up once a new Mayor Pro Tem is appointed following the end of Clifton's term on the council. The council then moved forward with renewing the terms of the commissioners of the Stamford Housing Authority, with the terms of Harold Foster, Cary Davis and Shirley Moore renewed through December of 2018. Once this was completed, the council approved all items to the consent agenda which included property bids and lake lot leases. After that, the meeting was turned over to City Manager Alan Plumlee for his report. Plumlee began his report by informing the council that he had met with water wholesale customers to tell them what to expect from the rate increase. He said that he did not face any opposition from the customers as they had expected the increase, but he did say that the city was still waiting on the rate study which may change the water rates again. Plumlee continued by stating that the city has been using the Code Red emergency alert system for a year now, receiving positive response from the community. Plumlee stated that efforts were being made to sign more citizens up for the program, which includes adding a link to the service to the websites of the Stamford American and the Stamford Star. Plumlee continued by stating that he will be getting volunteers from the VIP Center to help older residents with signing up for the service. He continued by stating that the city is advertising the sale of two vans formerly used by the VIP Center, which will be sold as is with no warranty. Plumlee concluded his report by stating that he had received phone calls from concerned citizens believing that the tornado sirens were being tested. Plumlee said that the sirens heard were from the new lightning detectors installed at the schools, softball and baseball fields to alert when lightning is in the area. Plumlee said that while the tones were similar, the tornado siren is long and steady and the lightning siren is short at around 10-15 seconds only. With no other business to attend to, the meeting was turned over to the Stamford High School Ag Issues team, who presented their competition project to the council who were allowed to ask questions afterward. Ag teacher Rode Merryman informed the council that the team would be competing in district competition the following Tuesday and stated that anyone that has research on the subject presented that may prove helpful to the team is always welcome. Once the presentation was completed, the meeting was adjourned at 6:45 pm.

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