Freezing 2023 electric rates for 2024, raising starting police officer pay and issues at the airport were among matters discussed Monday by the Houston City Council.

Upon reviewing utility results and projections for 2023, the council determined that it could likely afford to not raise electric rates for 2024. The council stipulated that an emergency could render a rate raise.

Mayor Viki Narancich raised concerns over adequate starting and existing police officer pay scale. Currently, $17.08 per hour and an “above average” benefits package is offered. The council approved a motion to raise starting wages to $19 per hour and the council’s personnel committee will discuss a department pay scale raise.

After recent lighting upgrades to the airport, the mayor was informed that the concrete is not testing at a high enough pressure capacity. It was suggested that the contracted workers could fix the issue and pay the city $1,000 per day. There is also a minor issue with the lights, and the two issues combined threaten another shutdown of the airport. No official action was taken on the matter.

In other matters:

  • Susie Baldwin, Safe Sleep coordinator, formally thanked the council and mayor for their role in helping Texas County Memorial Hospital in achieving Gold Level Safe Sleep Certification.
  • The council approved a $53,211 bid from Piney River Ford for a new recycling truck.
  • The council okayed a $39,900 bid from Landmark Dodge in Kansas City for a police department Dodge Durango.
  • Handbook changes regarding travel expenses were approved.
  • Approximately $4,400 was approved to upgrade the carpet in the rest of city hall like the city clerk’s office.
  • A bid of $375 was accepted effective immediately for cleaning city hall.
  • Ordinances 109 and 110, concerning fire chief and appointed official insurance contributions, were read. The second and final reading will take place at the next regular meeting.
  • Lloyd Wells, city administrator, gave an update on the male bathroom at the Visitor’s Center. One urinal is leaking behind the wall, public grounds is working on it.
  • Narancich gave the council lists of their one year plans that have been completed or are in progress. She also made the council aware that Kevin Buck, economic developer, has received a list of all of their short and long-term plans.
  • Tim Ceplina, alderman, mentioned a meeting with Clarissa Montez to discuss a downtown mural. If the council decides to move forward with the project, it will likely be completed in March or April.
  • Mike Williams, electric department, informed the council that transformers take approximately 60 to 72 weeks to get. He has 35 for housing in reserve.

At 7:46 p.m., the council adjourned into closed session.

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