Members of the Houston City Council handled numerous matters Monday during a meeting at Houston City Hall.
•Approved a $7 fee per conviction in the Houston Municipal Court system. The funds will be used toward improvements in the judicial system’s statewide automation project.
•Approved appointments for the Texas County Memorial Hospital Community Improvement District Board. They are Donnie Wells, James Huff and Steve Hutcheson, the former mayor will be the city’s representative. Huff replaces Eric Wells. Funds from a sales tax go toward completion of a surgery center.
•Approved an eight-year lease agreement for a new bucket truck for the city’s electrical department. It will replace a 2004 model. The cost is $1,925 per month.
•Authorized an employee health insurance plan following a review of options by Connell Insurance Inc., which acts as a broker. With a few alterations to the plan, the cost will remain steady. The city pays 100 percent of the coverage for employees and their families. The monthly premium of about $26,000 will remain nearly unchanged.
•Approved an agreement between the city and the Houston School District to renew its contract for a police officer on a campus. The district pays 75 percent of the cost.
•Tabled a decision whether to compensate electric department workers additionally for obtaining their certification for skills needed as the city prepares to operate a fiber-to-the-home system. The city paid for the training. While the city has hired a fiber department employee, additional help might be needed when storms strike. The city has three electrical department workers, with a fourth just hired.
•Reorganized following a council election last month. The mayor presented council committee appointments. Ross Richardson was named by the council as the mayor pro tem.
•Decided to hold a 6 p.m. May 24 special session as the city works on updating its planning and zoning ordinances. The Houston Planning and Zoning Commission forwarded a document following extensive work to the council earlier. Any changes by the city will be passed back to the commission for its input.
•Heard an update from City Administrator Scott Avery on a contractor's status of doing video inspections of sewer lines to detect problem areas. A report on findings is expected soon on phase II work and recommendations for priority repairs. The work is part of an effort to reduce water at the city’s wastewater treatment plant.
•Learned that additional electrical meters have arrived as the city works on a trial phase that will allow water and electrical readings to be automatically transferred to city hall for billings purposes. Consumption can be monitored and disconnects/connects done from city hall.
•Heard that work is underway to open the city’s municipal swimming pool on Memorial Day. A structure containing a bath house, conference room and other space is nearing completion. About 100 square foot of concrete has been replaced twice, and work is underway with an architectural firm and the contractor to resolve it. No additional costs are being incurred by the city.
•Learned that the city hopes to tap Federal Aviation Administration dollars overseen by MoDOT to replace airport runway lights dating back to 1992. Additionally, the city may be able to use CARES Act funding to renovate a hangar used to store mowing equipment.
•Learned that the city was expected to be represented at a Missouri Department of Corrections meeting in advance of obtaining public grounds help from low-risk inmates. That stalled last year due to the pandemic.
•Heard Avery ask for input on priorities for the 2022 capital budget, as well as streets that need repairs.
•Met Chris Strickland, TCMH’s new CEO who assumed duties last month. He introduced himself and expressed a willingness to work together to drive progress in the community. Accompanying him was Jeff Gettys, who was recently was named as the head of the TCMH Healthcare Foundation. He will also work on special projects. Both fill vacancies created by retirements.
•Heard from Karen James, Drury’s University’s community relations manager for its Houston campus. She delivered news that sophomores, juniors and seniors and graduating students will be able to earn a substantial break for a three-hour class. The cost will be $210 for seated, $270 for online. The normal tuition fee is $320. James pledged to work closely with the city to promote higher education locally.