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City Council Addresses Oncor Rate Change Request, Sewer Main Expansion Contract

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Sulphur Springs City Council this week made short order of the regular meeting agenda, addressing all items — including an Oncor rate change request, amendment to the police budget and a community facilities contract for a sewer main expansion, and heard the monthly manager’s report — in just 17 minutes.

While presenting his monthly report to the City Council during the Oct. 4 meeting, City Manager Marc Maxwell noted that City Finance Director Lesa Smith would not be presenting a monthly revenues and expenditures report. However, during the next regular meeting on Nov. 1, Smith is scheduled to give a year end tally of expenditures and revenues.

Oncor Rate Change Proposal

Sulphur Springs City Hall
Sulphur Springs Municipal Building

Maxwell also recommended the City Council pass Resolution No. 1314, which denies Oncor Electric Delivery Company LLC’s requested rate change within the city.

The city is part of a consortium of cities that work together regarding the Oncor utility rates, usually through an attorney. Maxwell represents the city on the Steering Committee. The group agreed the amount was too high, so the group has been negotiating with Oncor regarding the matter. They have not reached an agreement with Oncor.

“Oncor filed a rate case. We’ve put an extension on that giving it 60-90 days. That time is coming up and we need to either approve the rate or deny them. We need to deny them, and then, this will ultimately be decided either at the Utilities Commission or by some agreed settlement,” Maxwell told the City Council.

Place 1 City Councilman Jay Julian made a motion, which Place 2 Councilman Harold Nash seconded, to approve the document denying the requested proposed rate change. The motion was unanimously approved by the City Council.

Asset Forfeiture Fund

Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jason Ricketson asked the City Council to consider amending the department’s asset forfeiture budget by an additional $35,000. That, he noted, would be in addition to the $20,000 the City Council approved late last month as part of the 2022-2023 City of Sulphur Springs budget.

The asset forfeiture fund, consisting of csh and liquidation of forfeited property from narcotic-related enforcement, is currently very healthy, with a balance of $296,092.64 as of Oct. 4, 2022. He asked that the City Council allow the additional $35,000 to be take from the fund to increase SSPD’s budget to $55,000.

He explained that the department is looking to upgrade and trade in issued duty pistols in order to transition from Glock 22 .40-caliber to the glock G45 9mm pistol, which will have a mounted optic sight (a red dot). This would increase the accuracy of officers over traditional iron sights, should a situation arise in which an officer has to fire his or her duty weapon. Many agencies are transitioning to this configuration to increase accuracy and officer confidence. The approximate total cost of the transition will be roughly $35,000. He asked that the $35,000 be pulled from the asset forfeiture fund to allow SSPD to transition to the G45 pistol with mounted optic sights. While the money is available in the account, state law requires the governing body to accept a law enforcement department asset forfeiture budget.

Nash made a motion, which Place 7 Councilman John Sellers seconded, to amend the SSPD asset forfeiture budget by $35,000 to $55,000 to allow for the conversion to the Glock G45 pistols as duty weapons. The council unanimously approved the motion granting the increased budget.

Sewer Extension Contract

Community Development Director Tory Niewiadomski recommended approving the proposed community facilities contract from Town Branch Living LLC. Niewiadomski explained that Don Roundtree with Town Branch Living LLC proposes extending approximately 1050 feet of 6-inch sewer main and manholes from Reservoir Street to Craig Street to promote development of currently vacant land in that area.

“Bulkley Properties LLC is the primary property that the sewer main will be crossing so that they can develop their project at Tate and Craig Street. The cost of this will be paid for by the developer,” Niewiadomski said.

Proposed Town Branch LLC extension of 1,050 feet of 6-inch sewer main extension from Reservoir to Craig Street denoted in yellow above

Water is currently available along Reservoir, Booker, Craig and Tate streets. In the past, sewer availability for properties in that area has been a stumbling block for development.

Properties in the area that could benefit from the sewer main extension are zoned multifamily, which could allow anything from single family residential development to apartments.

A Community Facilities Contract requires submittal and approval of engineering plans for sewer improvements, including easements. The city engineer has reviewed the plans and deemed the size of the proposed sewer main adequate for that type of development.

A bond or irrevocable letter of credit for the cost of the public improvements is needed, along with an inspection fee of 1.75% of those costs. Those have been submitted and approved by the city engineer

This would bring sewer from Reservoir up to Craig Street. City Council approval is required for the sewer project to be accepted as a public main.

Niewiadomski recommended the contract be approved. Place 5 City Councilman Gary Spraggins made the formal motion, which Place 3 Councilman Oscar Aguilar seconded, approving the community facilities contract with Town Branch Living LLC to extend the sewer main, at the cost to the developer.

Other Business

Sulphur Springs Mayor Doug Moore noted that there were no items resulting from the 30 minute executive session which preceded the regular 7 p.m. council meeting on Oct. 4. The agenda called for deliberations with Ashoka Street regarding economic development and consultation with an attorney, but no action was required.

After verifying that no one had signed up to speak during public forum, the meeting was adjourned Tuesday night.

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Author: Faith Huffman

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