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Budget Set, Master Plan Commissioned; Part of Litigation Settled; Sidewalk Grant Sought

It took less than 30 minutes for the Sulphur Springs City Council to race through and approve all items on their 17 item agenda the last Tuesday night in September. The meeting takes the place of the council’s October regular session. The council will be attending a state-wide conference for city councils during the week of usually reserved for their October meeting.

Toole Design was approved to begin in October and take four to five months to complete a Comprehensive Master Plan for the city. Ian Lockwood will lead the work locally for Toole Design. Lockwood is the individual that designed Main Street, Connally Street, and the Celebration Plaza/square. The current Master Plan was designed 20 years ago and changes in the city dictate the need for a new study. The study will cost $99,900. Now that the plan for the downtown area is in full swing, the city staff and council are turning their attention in a look at the whole city.

The segment of the Library roof that is metal will not be replaced when the remainder of the roof is repaired.  Damage to the metal roof during a hailstorm is only cosmetic and only noticed when flying over the library according to City Finance Director Peter Karsten. Not replacing the metal roof will garner a savings of $15,000 for the city.

The city will apply for a sidewalk grant through the Texas Department of Agriculture, Texas Capital Fund, Downtown Revitalization Program. Various areas of sidewalk are included in the request including new sidewalk around the currently under construction parking lot between Tomlinson, Main, and Davis Street. The grant request is for $250,000 with the city contributing $75,000. Shane Shepard spent much of Tuesday gathering signatures from business and property owners in support of the grant. Grant Works will administer the grant for the city. The Grant Works representative present Tuesday night has worked with the city on previous grants and the company is one of the largest grant writing groups in the state.  When the sidewalks are completed, business owners will be responsible for the sidewalks on their property.

Although a part of the litigation brought by the city and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has been settled, the council worded their acceptance following the suggested reading of City Attorney Jim McLeroy. With the wording, the litigation continues to hold liable the entities that have yet to settle the matter. The lawsuit names as defendants SS Seniors, LLC, Accent Developers, LLC, and others. The lawsuit was brought after an illegal tap in a sewer line was performed by a developer when apartments for seniors were built near Coleman Park. The illegal tap is said to have been the cause of death for a city worker.

With the second reading of city rates approved, rates for residents will slightly increase—water rate will increase 2.25%, sewer rate 2.25%, and sanitation rate 2%. The tax rate will remain at .44 cents per $100 valuation but the exact wording required by the State of Texas will show an increase in city taxes of .99% due to the increase in property values.

The Food and Food establishments ordinance approved has been in the works for some time, according to City Manager Maxwell. The new ordinance will replace an ordinance that dates back to 1954. The new ordinance allows suspending or revoking the permit to be open for the establishment. Investigations using the state inspection work sheet that has been used for several years and the number and kinds of inspections will remain the same under the new ordinance. A restaurant located on the I-30 service road south of Broadway has failed continually to maintain a proper temperature for food served on their buffet line creating the need for a stronger ordinance.

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Author: Staff Reporter

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