City of Houston public grounds supervisor Bill Ramsey uses a skidsteer to clear snow from Grand Avenue as the region plunged to below zero temperatures in February. A plan was finalized Monday to recoup a chunk of the wholesale electrical charges. The city will pick up half of the tab. Credit: HOUSTON HERALD FILE PHOTO

Members of the Houston City Council held a first reading of an ordinance Monday to update the town’s zoning, approved hiring a laborer for the parks department and heard an overview of TCMH’s annual report during a short meeting.

After months of the work, the 78-page zoning document was passed earlier by the Houston Planning and Zoning Commission and later received input from the council and the public. It details zoning throughout the city and highlights land use. Final adoption is set for the council’s Aug. 16 meeting.

Chris Strickland, CEO of the county-owned hospital, presented an overview of the institution’s annual report. With 412 employees, the hospital has a big economic impact on the community and region. About $5.75 million in wages are paid annually to Houston residents. Strickland expressed optimism about obtaining funding to complete a new surgical wing. It is a top priority.

Strickland, who assumed duties earlier this year, said another primary objective is increasing usage of the obstetrics department and physician recruitment. Strickland was accompanied by Jeff Gettys, the hospital’s development director.

In other matters, members:

•Moved forward with hiring a laborer for the parks department. The parks director resigned last week and in the meantime, city staff are fulfilling the role. Over the years, the position has been filled without any extended tenure.

City Administrator Scott Avery said he spent several hours over the weekend at the Houston Municipal Pool after a chlorine pump malfunctioned. It is operational again, and there was no issues with the quality of water, Avery reported. City Councilwoman Angie Gettys said she had attended a recent meeting of the park board, where she said members were frustrated by a lack of communication between the park board and the city. Soccer season is moving forward, Avery reported. Online signups should begin this week with the season launching the last week in September.

•Formalized an earlier plan discussed July 19 to shoulder about 50 percent of the cost of a surge in wholesale electrical costs during extreme weather conditions in February. Residential customers will pay $5.90 monthly for two years beginning on bills arriving in mailboxes in November. Commercial customers represented about 66 percent of the consumption during the cold snap. They’ll pay a proportional amount for two years based on usage. The city’s largest users will be notified soon of the cost. The total tab is $356,572 for city coffers, $119,095 for residential users and $237,476 for commercial customers.

•Were introduced to Shannon Jordan, who was hired by a council personnel committee to fill a role as community development and outreach coordinator. The position is responsible for economic development, community development and communications of the city. She began Tuesday, July 27.

•Were asked by Avery to send him requests for street repairs and 2022 budget requests.

•Heard that an updated grass mowing policy was set for discussion with a council committee. It was sparked by several discussions on the city’s unkept appearance in some areas.

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