Several plans for the future of the City of Houston were discussed Monday night at a meeting of the Houston City Council. After prompting from Mayor Viki Narancich at the last meeting, board members submitted paperwork detailing short and long-term plans for the city.
Among the ideas were hiring an economic developer, acquiring property for a recreation center, getting an assisted living facility, expanding manufacturing plants, creating pickleball courts, fixing roads, adding a deputy clerk, cross-training city employees, more transparency around the work of city employees, an adult daycare facility and a monthly downtown event including things like food trucks, art shows and music.
Council members also heard from Janet Fraley, a member of the Texas County Library Foundation board concerning the new Houston library. Based on her recommendation, the council chose Sapp Design Architects of Springfield as the engineers.
Sapp has an expertise in library projects, and has been in business for about three decades. They also made a motion to allow the mayor to sign two contracts pertaining to the agreement, pending the attorney’s review.
The new library building will be constructed as the top level of the Houston Storm Shelter at First and Pine streets in Houston.
At the meeting, Brad Eidson, the former city attorney and prosecutor, was recognized for his service to the city. Sean Smith, Eidson’s colleague, was appointed by the mayor as the new city attorney, pending a meeting in the closed session to discuss the position.
Eidson had been the city attorney for 20 years before being named associate judge.
In other matters, members:
- Requested that pay periods be included on checks, or that a calendar for the pay periods is included in their reports.
- Questioned why the previous and current mayors were paid on May 8. The clerk explained that they were both sworn in at the time, similar to the way current and previous board members receive one overlapping payment.
- Questioned a $94,000 charge for a transformer at Durham, $93,823 of which was for the transformer. The original budgeted amount was $85,000.
- Asked to reconcile a mistake in writing the Armed Forces Appreciation Day event a $100 check when it should have been for $300.
- Questioned a purchase titled “Fiber tablet” for almost $2,000 and asserted that it should go in the water budget since it was for the water department.
- Heard from Robbie Smith, fire chief, about bids received to remove topsoil and put clean rocks for a future training facility. The council agreed on a bid from Jared Smith Hauling & Excavating of Houston in the amount of $15,545. The intended training facility, which is not yet approved, would be funded out of the sales tax fund, and is estimated to cost between $650,000 and $675,000.
- Agreed to ask Town Screen for a quote on four or five displays to be used by the city for disseminating information.
- Heard reports from committee members on wanting to accomplish more fiber hookups, getting the utilities at the ball fields changed back to the Chamber, working on an open buildings list for potential businesses and advertising that Houston has a welding ready school and community.
- Heard from Mike Williams, the electrical department supervisor, on the new bucket truck he expects to arrive in June. Additionally, he discussed an opportunity for the city to sell an old bucket truck to the City of Cabool and an old pickup truck by way of sealed bids. The council approved a motion to accept sealed bids for the pickup truck and to offer Cabool the bucket truck for $60,000 contingent upon the arrival of their new one.
- Decided to wait to determine any new holidays for employees, such as Juneteenth.
- Heard from Mark Campbell, the city administrator on the geo testing of sites for a recreation center. He reported that three locations had been tested and that it sounded like they all had similar results in terms of the depth and types of rock. He is awaiting the final results.
- Heard from the administrator on new asphalt for roads, on which he gave the recommendation to use Willard Asphalt for bids one through seven. The council approved the motion.
- Heard from the administrator that the new insurance broker, Burch Insurance, was set to sign employees up on Tuesday, May 16.
- Approved the creation of an approval letter for CASA to submit to the state to be able to serve alcohol at its golf tournament.
- Asked for the clerk to furnish a list of the city employees, their departments and their pay schedules.
- Mentioned the Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast May 20 and questioned where 15-20 tables from the storm shelter have gone.
At 8 p.m., the council adjourned into closed session.