Members of the Houston City Council set the 2021 tax levy, authorized purchases for its fiber internet system and approved a work session to develop an updated policy on mowing during a meeting Monday night.

The city’s levy is nearly unchanged from last year at 32.16 cents per $100 assessed valuation. Houston contracts with the county collector/treasurer to take payments. Bills will arrive in early November.

The board approved a low bid from a contractor for required splicing on phase II of the fiber project. The cost is $40,075. An additional fiber purchase also gained approval. The cost is $25,346. Phase I hookups are underway in an area in and around Oak Hill Drive. Twenty-one are receiving service with installations underway.

Lines have been installed in Phase II which includes an area around the downtown business district. Phase III includes areas west of the downtown. Phase IV includes south Houston. Persons who want to get on the hook-up list when it is available in their neighborhood can call Houston City Hall at 417-967-3348 or fill out a form at houstonmo.org/fiber. The city is hopeful to have work done on the project in the last quarter of the year or early 2022.

In other matters, members:

•Will meet at 6:30 p.m. Aug. 26 for a session on setting grass mowing policies for spring 2022. Members of the council’s public grounds committee met last week and heard input from the city employees. Chairman Kevin Stilley termed the meeting productive and will help guide an overall plan.

•Reviewed a list of the city’s largest business electrical users and how a special assessment beginning this fall will affect them. That comes after extreme weather sent meters spinning in February and the city’s wholesale bill jumped significantly. About two-thirds of the extra charges represent consumption by businesses. Earlier, the city agreed to take on half of the cost of the extra charges and businesses will pay an amount based on their consumption. Residential customers will pay $5.90 monthly over two years. City Administrator Scott Avery will communicate the cost to each large user in the city.

•Heard Avery report, for the most part, revenue and expenditures in the first seven months of the year are according to plan.

•Approved a request from Fire Chief Robbie Smith to seek a Missouri Department of Conservation grant that would help with portable radio needs. If successful, it would pick up half the cost of eight portable radios.

•Heard Jeremy St. John, a former councilman and volunteer firefighter, inquire about the city’s earlier allocation of fire truck payment costs from general revenue by a former administration and why it is now pulled from a dedicated sales tax. St. John said the agreement was it would not come from the sales tax, should voters approve it.

St. John also asked for an update on the planned purchase of a F-250 truck budgeted for the fire department. That vehicle, he was told,  is on order, and delivery is hampered by a worldwide shortage of computer chips. The council had discussed it in February.

picture at municipal swimming pool
New hours are in place at the Houston Municipal Swimming pool. Credit: FILE PHOTO

He also questioned why the city pool was now closed and was told because of a labor shortage it was now open on weekends, 6 to 8:30 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays for families and for parties following discussion by the parks board. •Adjourned into a closed session

•Adjourned into a closed session.

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