Houston City Hall

Improvements are slated at the Houston Memorial Airport, the Houston City Council heard during a meeting last Tuesday.

Members met with representatives of Jviation, a Jefferson City engineering and consulting firm, which is working on lighting improvements for Houston Memorial Airport. Reinhold Electric of St. Louis was the low bidder at $654,825. Jviation was hired by the council to provide construction administration and on-site inspection services at a cost of $132,881. The total outlay is expected to be about $790,000, which is below the expenditures in the budget.

Under the program, the city will tap Federal Aviation Administration funds administered by the Missouri Department of Transportation that pays 90 percent of the costs.

A notice to proceed on the project is expected in March. It is estimated it will take 40 calendar days to complete.

In other matters, members:

•Heard from Kristie Miller, treasurer of the Houston Area Chamber of Commerce, who noted it was time to complete the city’s annual contract with the civic organization. The city pays $4,000 toward an annual fireworks display and gives a $500 monthly stipend. Periodic reports are given to the council. Miller reported that the chamber has four board members and mail balloting by the membership was slated to conclude that would add six more.

•Heard from Glen McKinney, a retired law enforcement officer from Washington state and candidate for Houston mayor, who concluded based on a previous discussion that the city’s attorney’s annual salary is a “real deal” for taxpayers considering the responsibilities it involves.

•Authorized placing a 3 percent sale tax measure on the April 4 ballot. (5-1; Stilley no) If approved the levy would occur on retail sales of marijuana, should a business locate. A similar issue will appear on the ballot from Texas County.

•Approved the purchase of a new police car as part of its annual fleet rotation. It would replace a 2018 Ford Explorer. The city said the county sheriff’s department has shown interest in it after equipment has been pulled. On a 5-1 vote (Romines no), the board okayed to purchase a 2023 Corwin Ford unit at a cost no more than $48,400. (which would include decals)

It has five officers and one assigned to the Houston School District. The board learned that officer Jordan Goodwin is leaving the force Feb. 9. When fully staffed, the department has nine officers. Two officers are currently going through an academy, and a third officer is hoping to finish this year.

•Will extend housing incentives that were put in place for 2022. At that time, $3 per square foot up to $7,000 was offered to builders. It had a $42,000 annual cap. The incentives and an updated application form will be reviewed later by the council.

•Heard from Brad Rees, a member of the Industrial Development Authority of Houston, after a question was asked pertaining to construction of a speculative building at the new North Industrial Park east of the fairgrounds. “Until we get some continuity and some willingness to work together from this council, the IDA is not going to spend any more out there. We have got to get everyone working together and then we will entertain that idea (to build the structure),” he said.

•Learned that additional golf cart space has been created at the Houston Municipal Golf Course and that an asbestos report is expected soon on a house on property donated at Lilly Avenue and West Highway 17. The city will likely demolish the structure and use the rock in landscaping.

•Will examine parking space curbs for slots at Main Street and Grand Avenue.

•Heard Alderwoman Sheila Walker ask for a review by an economic development council committee to review forms for new businesses and utility hook ups.

•Decided to hold a closed session Feb. 6 to discuss potential properties for a recreational facility after questions from Alderman Kevin Stilley. Since the meeting, parks and recreation director Brandon Maberry has resigned to accept a post in Warrensburg.

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