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Members of the Houston City Council approved an operating budget for the coming year, heard trash prices will remain unchanged under a new proposed contract and agreed to help the school district with engineering needs as part of a new track complex.

The decisions came during a short meeting Monday of the board at Houston City Hall.

With little discussion, the council gave final approval to the spending document that will guide the city in 2022. The council began work on the budget earlier in the fall and held several planning sessions to craft it. A first reading was held Nov. 15. (A detailed earlier story appears here).

Representatives of WCA, the city’s refuse hauler, appeared at the meeting following a call for bids by the city. WCA was the sole bidder. Under the proposal, rates charged to the city would remain unchanged under the five-year contract with one-year options. One new provision would charge a monthly $30 fee for  temporary dumpsters placed for a limited amount of time. The charge is designed to encourage quick use and avoid having them becoming a nuisance for such things as a breeding ground for mosquitos.

WCA provides trash pickup in Houston.

In other matters, members:

•Moved to terminate an order for a new bucket truck for the electrical department. That comes after the firm, Terex, notified the city of a big jump – about $78,000 — on the original estimated cost of about $145,000. The city had earlier planned to lease the truck, but will now cancel the contract and look at other options. The vehicle was set to replace a 2004 model.

•Approved a proposal from The Bank of Houston, which offered the best pricing for three, $100,000 certificate of deposits with terms of 12, 24 and 36. The move is part of a stair-stepping strategy adopted by the city that will have $3 million in assets expiring at different times.

•Will initiate engineering services for the Houston School District to relocate a sewer main as part of a move to install a new track facility at Tiger Stadium. The school, which hopes to land a grant, will reimburse the city. An electrical line also is expected to be relocated.

•Approved reimbursement to Texas County Memorial Hospital totaling about $115,000 as part of a Community Improvement District that generates funds from a temporary quarter-cent sales tax to complete a surgery center.

U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt learns about the surgery center during an October visit at Texas County Memorial Hospital. That’s CEO Chris Strickland, right. Credit: FILE PHOTO

•Will move in January to approve an incentive for new housing construction in the city following a recommendation by the Industrial Development Authority of the City of Houston. The program is aimed at sparking growth in the community’s housing market. City Administrative Scott Avery said he would outline a proposal at the council’s next meeting on Dec. 20.

•Heard that the city will upgrade its airport fuel pump after experiencing issues. Progress was also was reported on a upgrade of the lighting system through FAA funds administered by MoDOT and a business plan that aims to land aviation-type businesses at the Houston Memorial Airport.

•Learned that required fiber splicing for the city’s high speed internet system is occurring this week in some phases of the project. The move will open up additional homes for connection. About 100 are signed up.

•Received an update on the city’s youth basketball league. Avery reported more coaches are needed, and persons who can help can call him at Houston City Hall. Thirteen or 14 teams are expected and only six coaches have been secured.

•Learned that Kaitlyn Williams is the city’s new utility clerk and has begun duties.

•Heard that the city is working to close out two USDA grants involving equipment at the Piney River Technical Center and a new fire truck.

•Adjourned into a closed session.

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