Houston City Hall
Houston City Hall Credit: Houston Herald file photo

Approval of a fire training facility, wastewater system testing and reduced utility payments were among matters discussed Monday by the Houston City Council.

Robbie Smith, fire chief, presented the council with a recommendation for a bid from Fire Training Structures (FTS) of $669,971 for a new training facility. It is designed to be a simple, three-story structure to conduct repeated live-fire and emergency scenarios safely. The facility is expected to improve the city’s Insurance Services Office (ISO) rating which would help decrease citizens’ insurance costs. The council accepted the bid with the intent of completing the facility in nine to 10 months following a signed contract. It will be located at the Houston Industrial Park off West Highway 17. The facility will be paid for through the department’s share of a one-cent sales tax for parks, fire and police, in four equal payments beginning at the receipt of the order and ending after installation and acceptance. 

The council voted to proceed with wastewater system testing for $105,966.30 through TREKK Design Group, which will locate issues in the system. The city will be responsible for $55,966.30. 

Lloyd Wells, city administrator, said that the city has paid off surcharges from an extreme winter storm in February 2021, so residents and businesses alike should soon see utility bills decrease slightly. 

In other matters: 

  • Members voted to approve invoices dated Oct. 10 and not Oct. 16 due to a clerical error. 
  • A $9,013.20 purchase for a new wastewater treatment mower was approved. 
  • The council approved a standalone update to a policy now allowing all employees working weekend shifts to receive a two-hour minimum. A complete policy change will follow. 
  • Viki Narancich, mayor, asked how she needs to implement the new meal expense limits into policy. A clause will also be added to clarify that if the department’s card is not available, reimbursement can be made with a paid receipt. 
  • The council members decided to drop off bags of candy as private donations for the upcoming downtown Halloween event. 
  • Members decided to suspend discussion of insurance ordinances until the conclusion of ongoing legal matters. 
  • A $8,990 purchase was approved for a fire hydrant valve for a hydrant near Sonic that needs to be changed. The valve helps avoid a boil order for the area. 
  • Members discussed the Community Improvement District (CID) tax that goes to Texas County Memorial Hospital. They believe the hospital will continue the tax until its expiration regardless of when the new surgery center is completed. The tax, approved in 2018, has a length of 10 years or $675,000. 

A special closed session was held at 6 p.m., delaying the meeting start until 6:36 p.m.

At 8:04 p.m., the council adjourned into closed session. 

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