Elections, Cleanup Dates, Audit, Utility Rates Addressed At Recent Cumby City Council Meetings
The City of Cumby announced that a company will be mosquito control spraying in town Thursday evening, June 18. The city approved the mosquito control measures during their regular June board meeting, conducted zia Zoom.
The city was quoted an estimate of $120 from NR (Noble Resources) pest per treatment. The company offers truck-mounted mosquito fogging for town, cities and events. This service is offered by the company as a one-off treatment, as well as ongoing treatments.
In 2018, the City of Cumby had the company provide fogging service to help reduce mosquitoes twice a month, for a total of 8 sprays. The City Council agreed to utilize the company, to be called as needed, with no contract or set number of sprays during the June 9 meeting.
“All treatments are pet and kid friendly,” according to the NR Pest website.
Also at the June 9 meeting, the council took action on a number of additional items, including setting 2 summer cleanup days, calling for a November City Council and Special Election, Utility Rates, demolition of a structure and several other items.
The City of Cumby was slated to hold an election for Alderman 1 and 2 on the council in May. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, that election had to be canceled. The City Council at their June meeting approved a resolution calling for a regular election on Nov. 3 to elect Alderman Place 1 and 2 as well as mayor.
The council also approved a resolution calling for a special election to reauthorize the local sales and use tax at a rate of ¼ of 1% in order to continue providing revenues for maintenance and repairs to city streets. The special election would also be held Nov. 3 alongside the City Council election and other county, state and national elections. Early voting by personal appearance would be Oct. 18-30,
Summer Cleanup Dates
Cumby City Council had planned a Spring City-Wide Cleanup in April. That too was postponed due to COVID-19. As the state is reopening, Alderman Julie Morris noted four dumpsters would be provided four times a year at no additional charge to the city. She recommended designating 2 days in July as cleanup days and arranging to have the dumpsters on site for city residents to dispose of items that might not otherwise fit in their trash containers.
Alderman Betty McCarter recommended having all four at one time, as the dumpster on the previous cleanup date filled within 2-3 hours.
Mayor Doug Simmerman noted that there could not be more than 1 dumpster out at time because of space limitations.
Cumby Police Chief Paul Robertson reported one problem before was people residing on county roads trying to use dumpsters provided for city residents only. Doing so can result in a fine.
After several dates were discussed, Morris suggested setting summer cleanup on July 11 and 18. The council agreed on the cleanup days.
The Cumby City Council also approved an ordinance amending city utility rates. The big change will be in units the rates are figured on. Those who don’t use large amounts of water, could see a reduction in their water bills, city officials said.
The monthly base rate is $8 for 1,000 gallons of water, the usage rate would be $8 per $1000 gallon, $4.50 per 1,000 gallon for more than 2,000 gallons , $5.50 per 1,000 gallons over 3,000 gallons, $7 per 1,000 gallons over 5,000 gallons. The bulk water rate would be $45 per load maximum 3,000 gallons per load.
Previously, 3,000 gallons of water would have been $28.40 for a total of $67.20, but the new rate would be $24 for water and $62.20 total for the city utilities bill.
So a bill under the prior rate per 1,000 gallons would be $23 for water, whereas the new rate is only $8 per 1000 gallons of water. The three other utility rates would remain the same: $23 for sewer, $14.50 for garbage, $1.20 sales tax. The total for the old bill would have been $61.70, but the new rate would be $46.70, according to information provided by the fee schedule.
Cumby residents whose water usage falls in the third tier, 5,000 gallons, would see an increase in their bills. The water rate would increase from $39.79 to $40, causing the overall cost to rise from $82.98 to $83.20.
The rate for 7,000 gallons of water would increase from $52.56 to $56, increasing an overall bill from $104.76 to $108.20.
Water usage of 10,000 gallons and up would increase from $72.56 to $80, increasing the overall utility bill from $134.76 to $141.20.
View the June 9 meeting agenda, City Ordinances or Utilities on the city website for additional information regarding city utilities.
An ordinance amending two other ordinances and establishing permit and inspection fees was also approved by Cumby City Council. This sets fees for all contract work and will help ensure that the work being performed in done legally and safely. Permitting also helps guard citizens against potentially unscrupulous contractors and better ensure quality work.The new ordinance cleans up the prior ordinances and puts them into a utilitarian source, according to City Attorney Jay Garrett.
City Ordinances may be viewed on the city website under the Ordinances heading.
Barker Street Demolition
Cumby City Council agreed to demolish a home at 209 Barker St. The structure has caved in and has not been livable for several years.
The new environmental officer contacted the owner, alan Romans, who indicated a desire to get it up to code, but at this time is unable to do so. The owner was in the process of purchasing an RV when contacted. He indicated he’d like to be able to clear it and seek a VA loan to construct a small home on the property. He is up to date on tax payments.
The demolition, according to city officials, would cost the city approximately $5,000-$6,000. The city officials consider the cost of the damaged structure versus being able later to put a small home, if Romans is approved for one, on the property and back on the tax rolls.
There is currently no tax lien on the property. One could be placed on it for three years if the owner doesn’t follow through by keeping the property up, city officials noted at the regular June council meeting. Romans agreed to sign documents allowing the city to finish tearing down the structure, His cooperation would save the city having to go through a 60 day legal process to be allowed to demolish the dilapidated structure from Barker Street.
Simmerman noted the city has received several complaints regarding the condition of the property. This would eliminate complaints and help the resident while making the neighborhood look a little nicer.
The recommendation received full approval of Cumby City Council.
Municipal Court Judge Lana Adams like the fire, police and other city departments will be providing regular reports to the city council.
On June 9, Adams reported that things appear to have been pretty chaotic in that department since 2018. An additional clerk has been hired and to have with case load. There have been 34 show cause hearings. One hearing is scheduled for the end of this month, for the first time since 2018. No jury trials can be held until August by order of state officials due to COVID-19.
The court took in approximately $78,000 over the last month, but Adams noted, the City of Cumby will only be allowed to keep about $45,000 of that amount. Municipalities are mandated to pay state service fees and for the Omni system, which tags driver’s licenses so people can’t renew or attain them until they’ve paid off fines.
With the new system, the city court will be able to seek payment for uncollected amounts dating back several years.
“Everything is organized. We did find some anomalies. We’ve been working with Ranger Vance on that. I think every month we’ll see improvement. We’ll do some bench trials every month and some jury trials as we go on,” Adams said.
The Texas Ranger was contacted to review prior records; no charges were filed in connection with the investigation, according to reports.
Kirk Evans of K. Evans & Associates CPAs reported finding several deficiencies in the city’s record keeping, including not having specific funds within the budget for each separate department and operation, and not logging all expenses and revenues as well as payments made as each transaction is made or bill comes in so that all finances are properly documented and accounted for.
All transactions were coded to the general operating fund, vendors listed twice in the system as separate accounts, incomplete personnel or payroll files, an override of accrued vacation hours in records, failure to properly account for credit card use, no documentation regarding a $15,000 check received as an insurance claim, according to Evans reported and the audit report.
Auditors contact a city’s legal council and any council engaged with the city during audit periods. Attempts to contact the city’s outside council, got no response from that attorney, according to Evans.
Evans said the company’s report lists everything discovered during the audit, which includes several items that needed addressing.
As for the city’s response in dealing with the recommendations, “most of the items, if not all, are being dealt with. Improvements have been made,” Evans said.
“A lot of things have been addressed and improvements are being made in our discussion with the mayor and Codi [Reynolds, city secretary]. We stand here to help, however we can, to see the city make continuous improvements. I know improvements have been made,” Evans said.
The auditor’s report can be viewed on the City of Cumby website in the June 9 agenda packet.
Special June 15 Council Meeting
Cumby City Council also held a special meeting on June 15, in which they were scheduled to consider hiring a special attorney to assist with a forensic audit. The request was rescinded by the attorney so no action was needed, according to the city secretary.
Also discussed at the June 15 meeting was a Texas Department of Motor Vehicle “Registration and Title Bulletin #004-20 Policy and Procedure” regarding operation of off-highway vehicles and golf carts and the issuance of license plates.”
This addresses discussion over the last 2 council meetings a request for the Council to consider allowing use of golf carts on city streets. The legalities of the request for golf carts and comparison of those to other off-highway vehicles was discussed at the May and June council meetings.
The Feb. 27, 2020 DMV document can be viewed in the June 15 meeting agenda packet.