Several parks issues – including repairs at the municipal swimming pool – were discussed Monday by the Houston City Council.
Robbie Mortensen, parks and recreation director, presented a handout outlining the year’s events and requirements for various parks and recreation programs. He highlighted the need for additional field and court space, as well as ongoing issues at the pool. He explained that due to an acid pump failure, the Friday before the pool opened, it was completely drained and refilled. This issue caused a closure on Tuesday, but the water department helped replace a pump to make the pool functional. The chlorine levels have remained low due to a minor leak, but the part to fix it will soon be installed.
The golf course also required attention, with problems related to the watering system and the need for additional staff. The council discussed the management of the golf course, considering the option of hiring a full-time director. Additional golf membership was noted, and it was suggested to explore partnerships with local educational institutions or programs to address staffing needs.
Overall, the board’s sentiment was that Mortensen has done an excellent job as director considering the current circumstances of parks and recreation.
Kristie Miller, chamber of commerce treasurer, discussed issues regarding the chamber ballpark meter and usage agreement. The council decided to pay the past-due balance, keep ownership with the city and redirect the bill to a chamber post office box.
Additionally, Miller confirmed that the Public Water Supply District 3 moved out of the chamber building, and asserted this would be better for the chamber, suggesting back-due utilities be charged to the water district.
Miller said the chamber will host a fireworks show July 1, with $4,000 budgeted from the city, and an additional $2,000 from the chamber. Next year, she would like for the chamber to match the budgeted amount in contributions.
Before signing any contracts with the chamber, it was determined that the new city attorney should review them, since he was not in place when they were written.
The council discussed insurance coverage and the employee handbook. Concerns were raised about the lack of clarity in writing regarding spousal coverage. A motion was passed to remove the lines discriminating against coverage for those with spouses who can receive insurance at their workplace. The council asserted that nothing has changed about the insurance plan, only the broker.
The council explored possibilities for economic development and marketing initiatives. The budget was discussed, and ideas were proposed for utilizing remaining funds – approximately $30,000 – to hire a marketing agency or provide temporary staffing support. In the future, they would like to share a full-time economic developer with the chamber and the Industrial Development Authority.
In other matters:
- Members expressed their appreciation for having dates mentioned on the payroll.
- Sheila Walker, member, inquired about a “flag patch” invoice and was informed that it was for the police department uniforms.
- The mayor questioned a tablet listed on the last invoice, which was explained to be for electricity by the administration and clerk, not water.
- Walker questioned the allocation of $4,850 for police training. It was clarified that the amount was for Lt. Matt Woodmansee’s community college scheduled to begin in November. A reimbursement of $2,500 from MIRMA, an insurance carrier, was also mentioned.
- Don Romines, member, asked if American Family Life Assurance Company of Columbus (AFLAC) cancer coverage is paid by the city or the employees. The clerk confirmed that it is covered by the employees.
- Kevin Stilley, member, inquired about IT equipment for the fire department. Fire Chief Robbie Smith explained that it was for setting up Wi-Fi at the fire department, as they are currently getting everything ready.
- Walker questioned another charge related to the police department. The department clarified that it was for purchasing lights for their guns, totaling $1,000 for 10 units.
- The board acknowledged the absence of a credit card policy and expressed the need to establish one. A finance meeting was scheduled for 6 p.m. Thursday, June 15, to address this matter and involve employees who carry credit cards. The meeting will also include a utilities portion.
- The council considered bids for digital display screens. It was decided to start with four screens at various locations, including two at city hall, one at the pool and one at the golf course. A motion passed to allocate the necessary funds, a one-time cost of $2,005 and $110 monthly payments.
- Updates were provided on the fire and police departments and the proposed training facility. The fire sales tax was identified as the source of funding, and plans were made to include it in the upcoming agenda.
- The need for additional recycling bins in the city was discussed. The council decided to determine the required quantity and seek bids for the procurement of matching bins.
- A proposal was brought up regarding the disposal of mulch on East Highway 17. It was decided that residents would be allowed to collect mulch for free on the 2 and 4 Friday of every month from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
- Borings were conducted for future recreational facilities, and it was found that there was no significant difference in the composition of the soil across the sites. The depths of the borings varied slightly, ranging from 6 to 22 feet, even on the same property.
- Regarding the airport, it was announced that work would commence on July 10. However, some testing is pending before the project could begin in full swing. The airport would need to be temporarily closed between July 4 and Sept. 4 to facilitate the necessary construction activities.
- There are plans to pave roads in July, which is expected to take approximately a week to complete.
- New tables have been purchased for the storm shelter. These tables were marked with the label “City of Houston – Storm Shelter.”
- The issue of key controls was raised concerning the upcoming library. Walker expressed the need for improved key control systems, highlighting the excessive number of keys currently in circulation. The administration acknowledged this concern, noting that one of the doors did not always close properly. Plans were made to address this issue and implement more efficient key control measures in advance of the planned library facility.
At 8:04 p.m., the council adjourned into closed session.