Members of the Houston City Council finalized a 2020 budget Monday that calls for several capital expenditures.
The council held the second reading of the document after several work sessions. It also reflects a new funding source — a one-cent sales tax approved earlier this year by voters — that is earmarked for police, fire and parks and recreation. One of the biggest efforts will be construction of a new municipal swimming pool at Westside Park. Bids will be opened later this month. It is hoped that Houston’s children will be able to use it a few weeks next summer, depending on the construction timetable.
In other matters, members:
•Approved a recommendation to move the city’s liability, property and workman’s compensation insurance policies to MIRMA, a self-insurance pool owned by participating members. Administrator Scott Avery will begin negotiations with the Columbia organization. The city believes it may realize significant savings and also obtain training opportunities.
•Authorized Avery to replace a thermal camera destroyed at a Quaker Street fire scene after winds shifted quickly, forcing firemen to evacuate. Nearly all of the $8,177 cost will be covered by insurance.
•Gave Avery permission to negotiate with Navigate Building Solutions of St. Louis to act as its project manager on construction of a new municipal swimming pool and other potential projects.
•Tabled a discussion to trade two vehicles and purchase a 2019 Escape to replace a 2008 Fusion for the economic development department. Councilwoman Viki Narancich suggested additional bids should be sought. The estimated cost was $14,218.
•Heard Avery lead a discussion on what steps might pay dividends in obtaining a better fire rating for the city. That might translate into a lower insurance premiums for property owners. Top areas that could lead to improvements included: training, hydrant testing and building code enforcement, the latter which is targeted to begin in the community.
•Finalized paperwork following the passage of an extension of a quarter-cent sales tax for street and sidewalk work.
•Heard Avery report that carpets were cleaned at city hall on Friday and other improvements, including landscaping work, are planned. The exterior was recently power washed, too.
•Will continue the process of looking for health insurance for its workforce. It is working with a Springfield broker. The city expects to make any changes in March.
•Heard Avery give an update on several proposals outstanding — ranging from an automatic reading system for its electrical meters to assessment of its utility poles.
•Learned that Jimmy Jones will move to full-time status with the city’s public grounds department and full-time employees for maintenance and inventory management and public grounds/parks are being sought. Both are included in the 2020 budget and are aimed at reducing the number of part-time workers.
•Adjourned into a closed session. Members gave a 1.9 percent raise to two employees who were maxed out on a recently adopted pay scale.