After a lengthy delay of more than a year, Sulphur Springs City Council is expected during Tuesday night’s regular December meeting to consider bids and at long last award a contract for construction of a new Senior Citizens Activity Center on Oak Avenue.
The City Council is also slated to consider on final approval an ordinance changing the speed limit on Mockingbird Lane; purchasing communications equipment, 2 airport ground leases, extending the sanitation collection contract and on first reading of a proposed amendment setting sanitation rates, as well as a Capital Improvement Plan amendment for Ramsey Street during the Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022 meeting which begins at 7 p.m. in the Municipal Building (City Hall).
Senior Citizens Center
City Manager Marc Maxwell last month advised the City Council that the City of Sulphur Springs would open the bid process for construction of a new Senior Citizens Center on Nov. 16, and anticipated presenting those bids and making a recommendation to the City Council at the regular City Council meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 6, 2022.
The pre-construction process first took longer to receive and approve a final design for the center, then stalled when costs came in significantly higher than originally budgeted in the 2019 bond election, which authorized the city to use EDC funding to pay the note annually for the project as well as improvements at Pacific Park. Waiting ultimately proved advantageous to the city. Officials were able to apply for and was notified in April Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs had approved a Community Development Block Grant-CV Community Resiliency Program Grant in the amount of $2.4 million grant to pair with the bond funds so the project can be expanded a bit to include not just the budgeted facility, but also some “wants” identified in the planning and design process.
The City then had to wait on a contract from TDHCA, which followed a number of steps before a contract could be issued. In October, Maxwell reported TDHCA had to finish their environmental clearance process, which involves 2 different comment periods. The second comment period was delayed 9 days later than anticipated, concluding Oct. 7 instead of Sept. 28. Maxwell had received and signed the contract with TDHCA by the Nov. 1, 2022, City Council meeting.
Any work performed prior to the inking of the contact for the grant would not be reimbursed or covered by the TDHCA grant. Thus, the City of Sulphur Springs opted to wait, to apply the voter approved funding and grant funding toward construction of the project.
Mockingbird Lane Speed Limit
The City Council will also be asked to consider on second reading an ordinance amending Chapter 25 of the city’s Code of Ordinances, adding section 25-35, which, if approved, would set a prima facie speed limit on Mockingbird Lane. This would only impact the section of Mockingbird Lane south of Interstate 30, from East Shannon Road (south service road) to Posey Lane (SH 11 east).
Sulphur Springs Police Chief Jason Ricketson at the Nov. 1, 2022, City Council meeting presented data collected during a speed survey of Mockingbird Lane, conducted after a City Council member asked him to look into the speed limit on the city street between the Interstate 30 south service road and State Highway 11 east. The councilman had indicated that traffic through that area sometimes backed up, creating traffic congestion in the area at times. A speeding profile was developed by placing a machine that gauges speed of motorists as each vehicle passed it. Information was also pulled from police records regarding traffic crashes at that location.
Using Texas Department of Transportation guides, the study showed the average vehicle was traveling at 33 to 34 mile per hour on that section of Mockingbird Lane (from East Shannon Road to Posey Lane. Of the more than 61,000 vehicles that passed the speed detecting trailer, 85% were rolling at speeds just over the current 30 mph speed limit for Mockingbird Lane, but under 35 mph. Based on the occupation along that stretch of roadway — which is heavily populated, and has a primary school, restaurants and a shopping center — city officials said even without a posted limit, the average person would reasonably slow down to that speed to accommodate the traffic and pedestrians in the area.
The school zone would not be impacted by the proposed ordinance change, as the school speed limit would still be enforced just as it currently is during peak school hours.
At the regular Nov. 1, 2022, City Council meeting, Place 5 Councilman Gary Spraggins made a motion to approve on first reading Ordinance No. 2819 setting the speed limit at 35 mph on that stretch of Mockingbird Lane, which he noted would still be safe for those in the area.
Place 2 Councilman Nash, at the Nov. 1 meeting, noted while 30 seemed slow, the speed limit on Mockingbird Lane south of I-30 should not be 45 mph either. He then seconded Spraggins’ motion to approve the ordinance amendment setting the speed limit at 35 mph. The motion received unanimous approval of the City Council.
If Ordinance No. 2819 is approved tonight (Dec. 6, 2022), Chapter 25 of the Code of Ordinances of the City of Sulphur Springs would be amended, with “Section 25-35” added to read as follows for Mockingbird Lane:
Beginning at the north end of Mockingbird Lane at the intersection of East Shannon (Frontage Road) to the south end of Mockingbird Lane at the intersection of Posey Lane (Highway 11), a speed limit of 35 miles per hour; except that a school speed limit of 20 miles per hour will be effective on school days only at the school crossing zone that is approximately 0.08 to 0.22 miles south on Mockingbird Lane from East Shannon.
Also slated to be presented are two items dealing with trash pick up. The City Council will be asked to consider on first reading and City Council consideration is Ordinance No. 2815 which, if approved on second reading at a future meeting, would amend the sanitation rate ordinance, setting new sanitation rates for city residents and businesses. Proposed on the agenda is a seven-year extension to the contract with Sanitation Solutions, one of two companies providing sanitation collection services (trash pickup and removal) in Sulphur Springs.
Sanitation Rate Increases 2017 2018 2019 2020 2021 Average Increase Total Increase CPI-W (Consumer Price Index-Wages for hourly staff) 2.05% 2.69% 1.56% 1.27% 6.85% 2.89% 14.45% City Rate Increases 2.25% 2.0% 1.5% 0% 5.0% 2.15% 10.75%
The city finance department during the budget process this summer recommended increasing the sanitation rates by 9.8% to reflect contract provisions. Over the past five years of annual contract increases are based on the consumer price index-for urban wage earners and clerical workers (wages for hourly staff — CPI-W) in October, but the city’s rates including any increases are decided on in September. That’s 3.7% more in contract increases than the city has passed on to users, according to city staff.
The sanitation revenue was less than projected over the last year, finance officials reported. Both sanitation companies serving Sulphur Springs typically submit rates at the end of October, which is after the annual budget is adopted and, typically, utility rates for city residents as well.
Place 1 City Councilman Jay Julian made a motion at the regular Sept. 6 council meeting to postpone any action of a sanitation ordinance until there were more accurate numbers, such as Republic and Sanitation Solutions submitting their annual request for increases to sanitation services, as allowed by the contracts the city has with each. Councilman Spraggins seconded the motion, and the vote was unanimous by the council on Sept. 6, 2022..
City staff are scheduled to present proposed sanitation rates for first reading and consideration, as well as a proposed 7-year contract extension for sanitation collection services from Sanitation Solutions at tonight’s City Council meeting.
Other Agenda Items
The City Council will also will be asked to consider approving:
- a third amendment to the 2019-2023 Capital Improvements Plan for Ramsey Street work
- assignment of one existing and one new ground lease agreements a the airport,
- using Regional FEMA Firefighter Assistance Grant funding to purchase communications equipment, and
- the consent agenda which in addition to the minutes from the most recent City Council and town boards and committee meetings, also includes a request for a 380 agreement for 302 Magnolia Street
The agenda shows a presentation is scheduled to be given for the street maintenance fee.
The city manager is slated to give a monthly report of capital improvements, municipal operations, accidents and claim for the month. A review of expenditures and revenues may also be given by the assistant city manager/finance director.
Prior to the 7 p.m. meeting, the City Council is scheduled to hold a 30 minute executive session to consult with an attorney and deliberate regarding economic development for Ashoka Steel. Any action from that session would then be taken after the City Council resumes meeting during the regular session beginning at 7 p.m.