Members of the Houston City Council authorized additional work at the city airport, heard from this area’s state representative and bought large electrical transformers required for a construction project on the Houston School District campus on Monday.
With a more than $3 million building project about to begin at the school district, the council okayed the purchase of two transformers costing $15,480. Installation is expected later this summer.
The council also OK’d completing a pilots’ lounge, parking lot and entry work near new hangars at the Houston Memorial Airport. Under the program, MoDOT — using federal funding — will reimburse for 90 percent of the cost of the outlay.
Members of the council also:
—Approved participating in the “Purple Heart City” statewide project that recognizes the sacrifices of veterans.
—Heard that Raymond Kramm will be honored at a noon Monday fish fry for his contributions to the parks department upon his retirement after several years of service.
—Urged businesses to close the lids on trash dumpsters after complaints of debris being blown away from them.
—Authorized City Administrator Larry Sutton to examine the possibility of purchasing a Case backhoe from a state surplus program to replace the city’s aging fleet. The cost is $23,500 for machinery that has about 1,800 hours of use.
—Decided to have Brad Eidson, city attorney, draft a secondary seat belt ordinance that mirrors state law. While police officers couldn’t ticket a driver for not wearing a seat belt, they could write one if the purpose of the stop was unrelated to the belt violation. More education also was encouraged by the council, who reviewed data showing an alarming decrease in seat belt usage at Houston High School.
—Heard from a delegation organizing activities downtown. David Klotz acted as spokesman. Activities are planned for the first Saturday of each month beginning in April.
—Met Brenda Jarrett, the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce’s new executive director, who pledged a reinvigorated organization.
Rep. Robert Ross, R-Yukon, heard concerns from the council related to a bill that they say limits the ability of municipalities to manage wire attachments to city electric poles. Ross favors the bill — many cities, including Houston, do not. On Monday, the city said this area’s state senator, Mike Cunningham, had added language that made the bill more acceptable to them.
A second bill — introduced by Ross — specifies that no political subdivision shall have the authority to require the removal of relocation of infrastructure owned by a communication service provider that is located on private party, public rights-of-way or utility property — unless the political subdivision pays the costs for removal or relocation. Sutton said he knew of no bordering state with such a regulation.
The city says it should have the ability to regulate service that it is situated on its right-of-way. Supporters say if telecommunications are to grow, some guarantees to providers are required.
Ross, under questioning from Sutton and City Councilman Don Romines, said his actions were always guided by what was best for his constituents and he welcomed their input.
Other topics during a nearly one-hour talk with Ross:
•The state representative said it would be fiscally irresponsible to expand Medicaid amid questions about its future costs and aiding people who didn’t necessarily need it. Romines pointed out that Texas County Memorial Hospital is a huge driver of the economy, providing 400 jobs, and was imperiled by cuts in the healthcare industry.
•He said he would support some type of financial solution to keep ailing 911 systems operational. A steep decline in landlines and no funding source from cellular telephones has entities scrambling to find funding. Texas County voters will decide a three-eighths of a penny sales tax next month.
Missouri House members approved legislation last week that could lead to new fees to support the state’s 911 and poison control networks.
The measure would set a 3 percent charge for prepaid wireless phones. Proceeds would go to the poison control center and for counties to improve their 911 systems.
Counties also could seek voter approval for a monthly fee applied to landline phones, cellphones and any other devices capable of calling 911. It would be capped at $1.50 and could not be enacted if the county has an existing tax for 911.
The legislation was approved 115-29 last Thursday and now moves to the Senate. Ross was absent.