Here we go again. Good news is that the Shoreacres City Council meeting last night didn’t last all that long. My recorder says it was one hour, nine minutes, and forty-two seconds. But hey, I did miss the gavel starting the meeting, so I’m going with one hour, ten minutes!
Presentation from San Jacinto College
Mayor Matt Webber arranged for Dr. Brenda Hellyer, San Jacinto College Chancellor, to give council and citizens an overview of the new Maritime Campus that the college is constructing on the Bayport channel. It was a very informative presentation. City Administrator Stall will be putting the slideshow on the city website but until then, I’ve scanned the handouts that Dr. Hellyer presented. Probably the most important item to note is a community meeting on Sept. 11, 2013 at the Houston Yacht Club to go over the details of the new campus. This is a good thing for the port and possibly for the community of Shoreacres.
Darlene Gamble Bay was the only citizen to comment. She thanked the council for approving the check-off box for park donations at the last meeting and for completing ditch mowing on her street. She also inquired about mosquito spraying, saying that one case of West Nile Virus has already been detected in the Woodlands area. She also asked the council to schedule a meeting with FEMA to explain the new regulations that will affect Shoreacres
City Administrator Stall noted that the recent rain has delayed several projects. Street improvements (you should see mine!), the fence at water station 1, the fill and flush startup at water station 1, and the roof on the public works building.
Good news is that we are now back in the Community Rating System for flood insurance discounts. Stall has been talking to a rep from CRS in Florida and perhaps next year this will be restored.
Audit Committee report
The Audit Committee has been re-formed (staffed?) with the following members:
- Chairman (Council) Rick Moses June 30, 2014
- Member (Council) Nancy Schnell June 30, 2014
- Member (Administrator) David K. Stall Indefinite
- Member (Public) Dianne Victor June 30, 2014
- Member (Public) Charlotte Wells June 30, 2014
Moses gave a report of a meeting with the auditor, saying this is the first time the auditor had met with members of the audit committee. He said that there were three minor findings that have already been corrected and thanked citizens Dianne Victor and Charlotte Wells for their help.
Agenda item 8.2 – council approved the same auditor for one more year.
Agenda Item 8.3 – council approved proposing a property tax rate that exceeds the calculated effective tax rate. Four council members approved the possibility of raising your taxes: Bunker, Moses, Schnell, and Wheeler. Only Steve Jones resisted, saying that if a family brings in less money, they tighten their belt and cut expenses. Prior to the vote, Mayor Webber stated that he didn’t see a need to raise taxes but wanted the “flexibility” to do so. Sheesh.
Agenda Item 8.4 – related to 8.3, council scheduled public hearings on the tax rate increase for 8/29 and 9/2. I asked Stall if he was sure about the dates and he said he was, that he would email the Houston Chronicle after the meeting and they would be published in time for a 7:00 pm meeting Thursday – which couldn’t happen but hey, who am I? I received an email from him late last night advising that the notice wouldn’t make it and he would have to work something out. So, I suppose there will be a special meeting of council to set a new date for the public hearings. Just supposing.
Agenda Item 8.5 – council authorized Stall to contract for mowing services. Interestingly, the authorization doesn’t bind Stall to accepting the low bid – if I were him, I’d give it to the guy that lives in the city. But hey, I’m not the one trying to keep my job.
Chief Newman was in attendance. I’m not sure he’s the chief or not but he was there. I guess the law probably states we have to have one, so the council is waiting to hire someone before they put him on PAID administrative leave. Good grief. I tried to talk to him but he said he couldn’t and I’d have to talk to the Mayor.
I’ve seen it time and time again. People run for office on a low tax, fiscally conservative agenda. They get elected and decide, hey, we need “flexibility”. So they are going to hold entirely meaningless public hearings and then do what they wanted to do in the first place. I agree with Alderman Jones – if revenues are down, cut spending. It is a simple formula. Except when you factor in the addition of police officers and wasting $15,000 on someone from the “outside” (heh, wanna bet on that?) to “review” the police department. Be careful what you ask for.
But hey, who am I kidding? Only 9 citizens, including me, bothered to show up for a meeting on increasing property taxes. We get the government we deserve.
UPDATE 8-29-13 07:45
City Administrator Stall provided me with an updated schedule of public hearings for any proposed tax increase. A workshop and vote on the new tax rate will be held on Tuesday, 9/10. If a tax increase is proposed, there will be public hearings on Monday, 9/30, and Monday, 10/7. A final vote on the tax rate will be held on Monday, 10/14, if an increase is proposed.