Members of the Houston City Council met Monday night.

The Houston City Council on Monday tackled several issues related to improving and assessing  the condition of its utility system.

At the top of the list is reducing stormwater runoff that makes its way into the community’s wastewater treatment facility. Figures show heavy rainfall greatly increases the amount of water that arrives at the facility, which is located off Florence Street.

Scott Avery, city administrator, sought and received approval from the council to seek bids for a study of the sewer lines that will result in detailed data scoring the condition of miles of pipe in the city. While the work is performed, troublespots — such as roots in a line — would be tackled.

Avery said the information will help in developing a plan to reduce the usage pressure on the treatment plant. Those areas deemed the worst will get top priority.

The council also authorized a study to look at an automatic electric meter reading system that would bring new efficiencies to the system, which is a major driver of revenue for the city. Avery reported that surplus revenue collections in the 2019 budget will allow for the purchase. No formal bids have been received, but estimates put the cost at less than $274,000. In addition to capturing data from meters remotely, the utility staff will be able to disconnect meters from city hall.

Another electrical department project will result in an inspection of poles in the city. Pricing will be sought for a review of all poles and a preliminary review of connections and wires to identify problems. Mapping of the locations also will be produced.

In other matters, members:

•Heard a detailed nine-month assessment of the 2019 budget from Avery as the city embarks on finalizing the 2020 financial document. Overall, the city’s financial picture is good, he reported.

•Received an update on a project to make repairs following storm damage in April 2017 along Brushy Creek near the city’s wastewater treatment plant. A Springfield engineering firm is preparing bid documents. FEMA pays about 75 percent of the cost.

•Adjourned into a closed session. The council decided that a pool house project will be overseen by the city and its park board. It will be separate from the city’s effort to construct a new municipal swimming pool. The later effort recently received a boost from a $250,000 Missouri State Parks grant.


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